Three people have been indicted on federal drug charges for allegedly trafficking fentanyl and heroin in Anchorage over the past year, the Alaska U.S. Attorney's office said Tuesday.
One of the three, 27-year-old Sergio DeVoe, is accused of possessing with intent to distribute a form of fentanyl that's up to 50 times more powerful than heroin — at a time earlier this year when the city was awash in a tide of overdoses.
The three cases are not connected, said James Stinson, a special assistant U.S. Attorney through a partnership with the city municipal attorney's office. But they are a reflection of a burgeoning opioid and drug epidemic.
"I think it just shows how widespread and extreme it has gotten," Stinson said.
DeVoe was apprehended May 5 by the Anchorage Police Department's Community Action Policing Team during a "buy bust," said Stinson.
"What he was going to be selling as heroin was gunk soaked in fentanyl," said Stinson.
Stinson described it as "gray death," which has been described by the DEA as a mix of synthetic opioids strong enough to kill with exposure equal to just a few grains of sand.
"It looks like heroin but it's just straight fentanyl" with a mixing agent, Stinson said. "Presumably anyone who injected that could have just died."
At the time, Anchorage was in the middle of a dramatic surge of opioid overdoses.
In May, Anchorage medics were using naloxone, an anti-overdose medication, to revive people on average twice a day. Some first responders wondered if people were using opioids spiked with potent synthetic opioids like fentanyl.
Later in May, public health officials said at least three people who died of opioid overdoses in Anchorage during that time had fentanyl in their systems.
Stinson said he couldn't say that DeVoe or any of the cases could be definitively connected to overdose deaths.
Misty G. Thomas, 25, was charged with possessing methamphetamine and fentanyl in October 2016. In Thomas' case, the fentanyl was in the form of medical-grade fentanyl patches used by cancer patients, according to Stinson.
The third person facing federal charges is Charles Jeffrey Mosley Jr., 36, who is charged with possession with intent to distribute 100 grams of heroin in July. He also faces two federal firearm charges for allegedly having a gun during a drug trafficking crime and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
That's a pretty large amount of heroin, Stinson said.
"You could find that much in drug houses," he said.