ANCHORAGE — Anchorage police say a tip from a snitch started a two-month drug investigation that led to the arrests on Tuesday of four men, including a father and two sons, in an alleged marijuana-growing and heroin-smuggling operation.
Working with Alaska State Troopers and federal agents, police raided five mobile homes in Anchorage on Tuesday and seized about half a pound of heroin, more than 200 marijuana plants and about $130,000 cash, police spokeswoman Anita Shell said. Officers subsequently arrested 56-year-old William Garret Patrick and his sons, 28-year-old John Jacob Patrick and 25-year-old Jared Lloyd Jackson Patrick, Shell said. Police also arrested an associate, 27-year-old Colt Allen Burdick, she said.
A small-time drug dealer arrested in November tipped off the police that the elder Patrick was involved with heroin and marijuana distribution, said Sgt. Kathy Lacey, who heads the Anchorage Police Department's vice unit. There was no promise of leniency for the tipster, Lacey said. The sergeant said she did not know if the man was angry with the Patricks for some reason.
"Whenever we arrest anybody, we basically debrief them, ask them, 'What's going on? What do you know?' " Lacey said. "He didn't work as an informant. He just strictly gave us information, and kind of pointed us in this direction, and we ran with it."
"People, they do this all the time," she said.
The tip launched two months of clandestine police surveillance that led to the Patrick brothers and Burdick, their friend, Lacey said. Detectives also caught a drug "mule," working for William Patrick, who smuggled heroin on his or her body from California, Lacey said.
An investigation into the California source continues, Lacey said.
"He's obviously buying from somebody down there and probably has been doing it for quite some time," she said.
Meanwhile, detectives continued to watch the four alleged drug dealers' movements. They conducted a tremendous amount of surveillance, tailing the men around Anchorage, Shell said. Lacey declined to say if detectives made undercover drug buys.
Shell did not say specifically what the detectives observed, but they soon learned that the father and sons, with Burdick's help, had marijuana growing at three locations: two mobile homes at 3307 Boniface Parkway and another at 227 Newell St. According to the charges, John and Jared Patrick visited the mobile homes daily. Detectives got search warrants for those addresses and 701 S. Klevin St., where William Patrick lived, and 4031 Lore Road, where John Patrick lived, Shell said.
On Tuesday, city and airport police, agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration, IRS and troopers raided all five locations, Shell said. The investigators took the Patricks and Burdick in for questioning and went to work tearing down the marijuana growing operations and scouring their homes, she said.
According to the charges, investigators at the Klevin Street address found a .38-caliber handgun, as well as a pill bottle in William Patrick's bedroom holding about an ounce of heroin divided into small, user-sized bags. They discovered about seven ounces of heroin and the key to a safety deposit box inside a vent in Patrick's living room.
The investigators had already seized about $88,000 from a deposit box in Patrick's name during an earlier search, the charges say. In Jared Patrick's bedroom in the same home, the investigators found about $5,000 in cash.
On Lore Road, where John Patrick lived, officers found about 10 grams of heroin in baggies ready to deal, and he, too, had a safety deposit box, which held about $40,000, the charges say.
Sold in $300, gram-sized bags known as "wholes" or "gerrs," the total amount of heroin seized would have been worth about $63,000, said Lacey, the vice sergeant. The Patricks were selling at least some of the heroin by the gram or in tenth-of-a-gram increments known as "nifties," she said.
According to the charges, Burdick cared for about 75 marijuana plants found at his Lore Road home, and he later told officers that John Patrick had helped him in the past by paying his rent and utilities in exchange for marijuana. Investigators also found a .44-caliber handgun and a shotgun in the home.
Inside the Boniface mobile homes, police found 167 marijuana plants, the charges say. About half of the 242 plants seized were producing their intoxicating buds; the other half were "starter plants" and still maturing, Shell said.
The total value of the marijuana was unknown Wednesday, as it was still drying, Shell said. Police also impounded three vehicles -- a Lexus SUV, a Nissan Pathfinder SUV and a Ford Fusion -- all believed to have been purchased with drug money, Lacey said.
The four accused drug dealers appeared in court Wednesday to hear the long list of drug misconduct and weapons misconduct charges.
Judge Patrick Hanley asked each of the Patricks and Burdick, one by one, about their finances to see if they qualified for public defenders. All of the men said they had made little money in the past year. Hanley apparently did not notice until John Patrick's turn, second from last, that the charging document indicated large amounts of cash had been seized from the men. The judge had already appointed public defenders for William and Jared Patrick.
Hanley questioned John Patrick about the cash he'd allegedly stashed away in the deposit box.
"Yeah, that's been in there a long time," John Patrick said. "But they took that anyway."
John Patrick's family, in the courtroom, said they had hired him a private attorney.
According to the charging document, "William, Jared and John Patrick have never had a legitimate source of income in the State of Alaska."
According to court records, William Patrick was convicted of growing marijuana in 2005. Neither of his sons, nor Burdick, have any criminal convictions.
"I would guess the dad's been doing this for quite some time," Sgt. Lacey said. "That's probably all these kids know."
Reach Casey Grove at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4589.