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Four face charges of mailing drugs to Alaska

Casey Grove

A grand jury indicted four men Thursday in two separate cases involving drugs mailed to Alaska in October.

Branden Lee Anastasio, 24, and Ernie Benny Juarez Jr., 34, are charged with having heroin and methamphetamine, which they allegedly planned to distribute, mailed to Anchorage. In a separate case, James Gwaltney and Baretta Faatafuga, both 37, face charges they had heroin sent to them in Houston, Alaska.

Both drug packages were sent from California and intercepted Oct. 22, according to charging documents in both cases.

In the Gwaltney-Faatafuga case, a postal inspector found 3 pounds, 9 ounces of heroin stashed in a safe, the charges say. Federal authorities removed the hard, brown heroin and replaced it with faux drugs, then delivered the package. They ultimately tracked it to Faatafuga and Gwaltney, who were arrested Oct. 23, court records show. In addition to the drug charges, Faatafuga, already a convicted felon, faces a charge of illegal gun possession.

The package sent to Anastasio and Juarez in Anchorage contained a pound of methamphetamine in plastic bags stuffed into a pillow, according to the charges in their case. An inspector also found heroin inside an empty brown-sugar box also in the pillow, the charges say. In a written statement, the U.S. Attorney's Office said it had been more than 100 grams of heroin.

Authorities delivered the package and followed it to Anastasio and Juarez, who were also arrested Oct. 23, according to court records.

Court records show all four men remain in custody.

Reach Casey Grove at casey.grove@adn.com or 257-4343. Twitter updates: twitter.com/kcgrove.


By CASEY GROVE
casey.grove@adn.com