Jail time for Fairbanks, Juneau drug dealers

Craig MedredAlaska Dispatch
Loren Holmes photo

On Friday, a U.S. District Court judge in Fairbanks sentenced 23-year-old Jonathon Butterfield to 37 months in prison. Through a plea agreement, Butterfield admitted to counts of drug trafficking crimes. He was among a group of people busted for various roles in a large marijuana grow, in which more than 400 plants were seized, in addition to several firearms.

According to investigators, Butterfield and his conspirators – Mystiek Lockery, Floyd Harshman and Nathaniel Harshman – tended to illegal farms of the crop, and ultimately planned to harvest the marijuana for sale. Butterfield pleaded guilty to conspiracy and to manufacturing the marijuana. His grandparents, who live in Fairbanks, and a half sister shared with court a dim view of Butterfield's upbringing.

Born to drug addict parents and routinely abused, Butterfield never had a proper upbringing. He'd come to Fairbanks from Arizona to try to get his life on track and get through college, but somehow became entangled in Harshman's world, perhaps looking for a quick way to make big money. Despite his crimes, he's young enough to learn from his mistakes and one day do better, they said.

The setting for the grow site didn't help the defendants' cases when it came to trying to explain their weapons had nothing to do with the drug trade, something prosecutors noted in Butterfield's sentencing memorandum: “The road where this operation was situated was called At-Your-Own-Risk Road, and the site was posted with a sign that warned, 'No Trespassing. Violators will be shot. Survivors will be shot again.'”

To sum up, from prosecutors: “It is common knowledge that marijuana plants are valuable, especially in large numbers as in this instance, and this stock-in-trade of the drug trafficker needs protection from thieves. Further, even if the firearms were only to defend against wild animals, this alone indicates that the firearms were possessed in connection with the sole purpose for which this defendant and his co-conspirators where present at that location, namely, to produce marijuana, in violation of law.”

In Alaska's capital city, dabbling with a different drug – methamphetamine – has landed Juneau's Darrell Dawson, 44, a more than 14 year federal prison sentence. Dawson was sentenced to 170 months in prison.

According to prosecutors, investigators caught Dawson and a conspirator, Gema Thomas, importing $15,000 worth of meth through the mail, which was sent to Thomas's jewelry store, Peer-Amid Beads. Thomas forwarded the drug to Dawson, who then sold it to buyers in the Juneau area, collecting the proceeds for a future second bulk purchase from Thomas. Thomas is scheduled to be sentenced in March.