A 52-year-old Wasilla woman has been charged with conspiracy to distribute large amounts of methamphetamine and heroin -- and stealing mail while working as a contract employee for the United States Postal Service.
Although the drug-related indictment indicates Brenda Sue Cox worked with co-conspirators, she's the sole defendant named in both indictments.
Twelve separate packages were sent to Cox's residence on Pioneer Peak Drive in Wasilla from Car Audio Plus and Car Plus A1, businesses purportedly located in La Puente and West Covina, Calif. The packages, which authorities say arrived between Aug. 13 and Oct. 11 of 2012, were mailed to Cox from the same post office in the City of Industry, Calif., an industrial suburb of Los Angeles. There are no car audio businesses at the addresses on the packages, according to Cox's federal indictment.
It's unknown when Cox, together with other co-conspirators known and unknown to the grand jury, allegedly schemed with each other to distribute 50 grams or more of meth, as well as "a mixture … containing a detectable amount of heroin," but prosecutors pinned the defendant's first count around early October 2012. Her second count, again possession and intention to distribute 50 grams of meth, occurred Oct. 11, 2012. And Cox's third and final count stems from possession of the heroin concoction. The indictment doesn't say how much heroin, but a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Anchorage says the 52-year-old meant to sell "large amounts" of both drugs.
On the same day Cox was caught with the drugs, authorities found she had stolen mail as well. The defendant delivered mail for the postal service around Wasilla. The separate indictment doesn't say how much mail Cox had stolen.
The postal service and Alaska State Troopers investigated Cox's alleged drug distribution plans, which led to the federal indictments.
She faces a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence on the drug charges, but the penalties for stealing mail are nearly as severe: the law provides for a maximum sentence of five years and a $250,000 fine.
In July 2006, the State of Alaska adopted regulations that reduced the availability of meth ingredients. Troopers say although the number of labs in Alaska has remained relatively low, abuse of the drug lingers.
The National Drug Intelligence Center breaks the nation into nine regions, and Alaska is part of the Pacific region. The intelligence center claims meth is still the biggest problem in the region. Domestic production has decreased, due to the new regulations, but the drug remains widely available. Most meth is supplied by Mexican drug cartels, entering the U.S. through ports and the border, according to the center.
In 2012, troopers seized about 35 pounds of meth and three labs while filing 182 meth-related charges.
And heroin, a highly addictive "downer" often associated with Alaska's more populated areas, can now be found in smaller communities, troopers say. Heroin is primarily imported into Alaska via parcels and "body carriers."
Last year, troopers seized a much smaller amount of heroin, about five pounds, and filed 146 heroin-related charges.
Contact Jerzy Shedlock at jerzy(at)alaskadispatch.com