Alaska News

Police in Ketchikan arrest man accused of trafficking heroin, meth into Southeast Alaska

A Washington state man was arrested in Ketchikan on Saturday for his alleged role in what troopers say was a conspiracy to smuggle large amounts of heroin and meth into two Southeast Alaska communities.

The Alaska State Troopers' Statewide Drug Enforcement Unit arrested Zerisenay Gebregiorgis, 34, at 6:30 p.m. Saturday on two counts of felony drug conspiracy charges. The arrest came after a joint investigation by Ketchikan Police and troopers that started in June, the Alaska State Troopers said in an online dispatch.

According to an affidavit in the case, police learned of Gebregiorgis through an anonymous tipster who said he was the source of drugs being sold in  the Southeast community.

At the end of June, Ketchikan police busted two locals for meth possession. A man called "Bullet" was part of a group of people from Washington they'd purchased the drugs from, according to the affidavit. "Bullet" had been flying to Sitka and was "reported by local confidential sources to be selling and at the time giving away gram amounts of heroin to persuade the local addicts to buy from him in the future," according to the affidavit.

"Bullet" turned out to be Gebregiorgis,  "the head of a group of individuals from Washington who were using people to internally smuggle heroin and meth from Washington to Alaska," the affidavit asserts. Gebregiorgis arranged for meth and heroin to be smuggled from Seattle to Ketchikan by "means of female couriers" who carried it on their bodies, the affidavit says. The heroin and meth were taken to Sitka and Ketchikan "for the purpose of the substances being sold by local drug dealers," according to the affidavit.

Gebregiorgis allegedly talked about the plan in "very explicit recorded phone calls" and paid for the female drug couriers' flights, according to the court documents.

When he was arrested in Ketchikan on Saturday and police questioned him about what he was doing in Ketchikan, Gebregiorgis said that he'd come to "pick up one box of frozen fish" from a friend and fly back to Seattle the next day, according to the affidavit. But he couldn't produce a last name, phone number or address for the friend.

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Gebregiorgis didn't have any drugs on him or in his rental car when he was arrested, according to the affidavit.

He faces two felony charges of misconduct involving a controlled substance in the second degree in Ketchikan and another in Sitka, according to court records.

It's not clear whether Gebregiorgis will also face federal charges.

Michelle Theriault Boots

Michelle Theriault Boots is a reporter who covers news and features about life in Alaska, and has been focusing on corrections and psychiatric care issues in the state. Contact her at mtheriault@adn.com.

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