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Drug bust in Dillingham turns up meth, alarming investigators

Joseph Miller | The Arctic Sounder

An unsettling reappearance of methamphetamine in Dillingham may be a sign of increased drug traffic in the community.

On Aug. 29,  Western Alaska Alcohol and Narcotics Team (WAANT) investigators in an ongoing investigation contacted Keli Dumas, 26, of Dillingham outside the Dillingham post office after she received a delivery for a package from California. The address posted on the package from California is believed to be false by the investigators, but the package was shipped through a California zip code.

The investigation of the parcel resulted in the seizure three grams of methamphetamine and 1.5 grams of black tar heroin wrapped up in a plastic sandwich bag inside of a birthday card wrapped in cellophane. The investigation suggested that Dumas was in deliberate possession of both felony drugs and had the intent to distribute them. Dumas was arrested and charged with misconduct involving a controlled substance in the second and third degrees.

The investigators had been previously tipped off that the package in question contained methamphetamine, and the presence of meth in Dillingham was as alarming as it was surprising, as the drug is rarely seen in the area. Over the past three years, there have only been three instances of methamphetamine being discovered in Dillingham, this recent arrest on Thursday being the third.

The fact that methamphetamine is not commonly seen in Dillingham makes this new arrest a bit more interesting to the ongoing investigation, as this arrest is an indicator of more methamphetamine arriving and being distributed in the area. Despite the small quantity of methamphetamine that was seized from Dumas, the investigative unit said it believes that this is just the beginning of the drug making a more deliberate and notable presence in Dillingham and the surrounding areas.

Heroin has had a noticeable presence in Dillingham over the past few years, but the fact that the methamphetamine that was seized by the investigation was found with the heroin leads the investigators to believe that the drug use in Dillingham is escalating to more dangerous drugs and more addictive highs.

According to the 2012 Annual Drug Report by the Alaska Bureau of Investigation's Statewide Drug Enforcement Unit, The number of methamphetamine labs that have been seized by law enforcement in that state of Alaska has been declining every year since 2010, recording 11 labs seized in 2010, eight in 2011, and only three in 2012. However, the quantity of methamphetamine that has been seized has been increasing annually since 2010, recording 4.53 pounds in 2010, 6.20 pounds in 2011, and a whopping 35.19 pounds in 2012. In the report, the 2011 National Drug Intelligence Center Drug Threat Assessment claimed that methamphetamine continues to be the greatest threat to the Pacific region, including Alaska.

"Although the domestic production of methamphetamine has declined over the region as a large part due to the regulation of precursor chemicals use in its production; it is widely available throughout the region. It is further reported that the majority of methamphetamine within the region is supplied by Mexican drug trafficking organizations," reads the 2012 report.

These figures might unfortunately indicate that while methamphetamine lab seizures are going down, more methamphetamine is being produced in the state of Alaska every year, increasing the probability that more methamphetamine is being manufactured and sold on the streets by unseized meth labs.

A recent spike in thefts around Dillingham may be directly linked to the escalating drug problem, according to investigators. These thefts are most likely the first step in drug addicts accumulating stolen property to sell for money to buy drugs.

Dumas made an appearance in court on Friday and was charged with two felonies, one for possession of the illegal drugs and another charge for the intent to distribute. If convicted, Dumas could face up to 30 years in prison. Dumas is being held on $15,000 bail in accordance to the request of the state prosecutor to the Dillingham magistrate.

This story originally appeared in the Bristol Bay Times-Dutch Harbor Fisherman and is republished here with permission.