Cocaine bust among biggest ever in city

Casey Grove

Twelve kilograms of cocaine investigators found inside a red duffel bag Thursday in Anchorage was among the most ever seized in a single bust in Alaska, police say.

Anchorage police spokesman Lt. Dave Parker said Saturday that detectives could only recall one time in which they seized more.

An exchange in South Anchorage of a quarter-million dollars for the drugs -- about 26 pounds worth -- led to the historic seizure.

It was 8:45 p.m. Thursday, and Detective Gordon Dorr, assigned to a federal drug task force, was watching a deal about to go down at the Fred Meyer on Abbott Road, he wrote in an affidavit filed in federal court.

Dorr had his eyes on a woman behind the wheel of a black GMC Yukon, parked far from any other cars in a corner of the parking lot. About 9 p.m., a gold Yukon pulled up.

A tall man "who appeared to be muscular" got out of the gold Yukon with a duffel bag, Dorr wrote. The man was later identified as Donnell Johnson, 29.

Johnson opened the rear, passenger-side door of the black Yukon, put the duffel bag inside, then hopped into the passenger seat. Less than a minute later, he got back out, went back to his vehicle and the two SUVs drove away in opposite directions, the court papers say.

Detective Dorr and an officer followed. The woman was driving with her headlights off, he wrote.

An Anchorage police officer stopped the black Yukon near Sixth Avenue and Eagle Street. The woman agreed to a search of the vehicle. The red duffel was there, holding 12 kilos of what later tested positive for cocaine, according to the affidavit.

Authorities didn't name that woman in the case they filed against Johnson -- they used initials "FD" for "female driver" -- but her identity appeared to match that of a woman charged in a related case, Mihla Hall, 28. In that second case, police said they caught Hall with 12 kilos of cocaine in a red duffel bag during a Thursday traffic stop on a black Yukon.

The cops said they took "FD" to the FBI office just down the street from where she was pulled over. She told federal agents that she drove to Anchorage from Fairbanks earlier that day with $250,000, also in a duffel bag. She said she gave the cash to Johnson near a Burlington Coat Factory store, the affidavit says.

"Johnson took the duffel with the money and told FD to kill several hours as the person holding the drugs was still at work," the court papers say.

Johnson called later and told her to meet him at the Fred Meyer, where he gave her the drugs, she told the agents. The agents asked her to send a text message to Johnson and then call him, which she did. She told Johnson she was tired, and Johnson said she should call "Billy" when she woke up, the court papers say.

Officers later found Johnson in the gold Yukon and arrested him. At the South Anchorage apartment where Johnson had stayed the night with a girlfriend, the investigators found about $13,000 in a Crown Royal bag, about $12,000 in his girlfriend's purse, marijuana and a digital scale, according to the affidavit.

Johnson was charged with distribution of five or more kilograms of cocaine. Hall is charged with possession of five or more kilograms of cocaine with intent to distribute.

The 12 kilograms is the second largest single amount of cocaine seized by police in an Anchorage bust.

"It's a huge amount of cocaine," Parker said.

Agents with the Alaska offices of the FBI or Drug Enforcement Administration could not be reached for comment Saturday.

Reach Casey Grove at casey.grove@adn.com or 257-4589.


By CASEY GROVE
Anchorage Daily News