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Anchorage

Charges: Anchorage police set up drug deals with alleged Spice distributors

  • Author: Jerzy Shedlock
  • Updated: September 28, 2016
  • Published January 22, 2016

A couple accused of dealing Spice and methamphetamine, whose Winnebago was raided last week in Wasilla, had previously sold drugs to a police informant in a Midtown Anchorage RV park on three occasions, according to charges filed in connection with the case.

Anchorage police accuse Mark Purcella, 46, and Carol Halley, 50, of selling Spice and methamphetamine out of the motor home. A press release Wednesday night said officers raided the vehicle on Jan. 15 and recovered 426 grams of Spice, worth more than $6,000.

But the charges filed two days before the raid show undercover officers and informants working together to build a drug case against the couple. The meth charges are separate from the Spice bust -- the Municipality of Anchorage handles the Spice charges, said Deputy District Attorney Christina Sherman.

Municipal prosecutor Seneca Theno said the city hasn't filed charges against Purcella or Halley. The Anchorage Police Department detective handling the case sent out samples of substances believed to be Spice and meth to the Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory in Anchorage on Friday, Theno said.

The case is a priority for the city, Theno said, but the completion of the testing depends on the workload of the crime lab. She added that the lab may need to purchase new controlled substance reference standards, the pure form of drugs that laboratory analysts use to compare to suspected drugs seized by law enforcement as evidence in criminal cases.

Depending on the results of the drug tests, the state or the municipality could prosecute the alleged Spice dealers. The choice relies on whether the tested substances are included on the state's controlled substance list or in the city's law against Spice, Theno said.

She said Purcella and Halley could face Class B misdemeanor charges stemming from a subsection of municipal code that states it is unlawful for anyone to "recklessly provide, sell, produce, manufacture, or distribute any illicit synthetic drug."

All the other 50 defendants who have been charged with Spice-related crimes since Nov. 10, when the municipality enacted its reworked Spice code, were cited for possession and consumption, a Class B misdemeanor, said APD spokeswoman Jennifer Castro.

In an affidavit, APD Vice Unit officer Christopher Simmons said the investigation into Purcella and Halley began in late November, when a confidential informant briefed police about a drug dealer known as "Clean Mark," later identified as Purcella.

The informant told police Purcella was selling the drugs out of his Winnebago in an RV park behind the Office Lounge, an Anchorage bar. Police arranged for the informant to buy drugs from Purcella on three occasions in November and December, according to the charges.

During two such deals, Halley emerged from the motor home to hand over $100 of Spice and $100 of meth to the buyers, according to the charges. The third arranged deal happened on Dec. 17.

On Jan. 8, two officers drove to Purcella's regular spot off Northern Lights Boulevard to start "pre-operations surveillance" on the motor home, but the vehicle was gone. Police say they tracked the motor home to Purcell's deceased mother's property in Wasilla.

"The curtains were drawn in the vehicle, but it appeared to be occupied with the lights on, and movement (was) visible inside the motor home," the charges say.

The account of the police investigation ends with a redacted section in the charges. Arrest warrants in both the cases were filed Jan. 13, two days before the raid. Online court records show Purcella and Halley both posted bail and are currently not in custody.

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