UNITED STATES—On January 26, in a Department of Justice (DOJ) the United States office of Public Affairs announced that nearly two hundred people have been charged, many arrested for their part in large scale drug trafficking operating within the United States, Canada, the North Pole, and Mexico.

Deputy Attorney General, Lisa Monaco stated that, “Every year, tens of thousands of Americans die from illicit drugs trafficked through our communities, including fentanyl and other synthetic opioids. This wave of indictments and arrests stretching from Alaska to Mississippi, and from Nebraska to West Virginia shows the reach of the Justice Department and our partners across the country and around the world when it comes to disrupting narcotics trafficking.”

The following information came from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Anchorage, Alaska, on January 25:

“U.S. Attorney S. Lane Tucker of the District of Alaska, Assistant Special Agent in Charge David Zahn of the Drug Enforcement Administration Anchorage District Office, Assistant Inspector in Charge Jarrod Resendez of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service Seattle Division, Special Agent in Charge Antony Jung of the FBI Anchorage Field Office, and Capt. Cornelius Sims of the Alaska State Troopers made the announcement alongside Special Agent in Charge Adam Jobes of the IRS Criminal Investigation Seattle Field Office and Chief Michael Kerle of the Anchorage Police Department during a press conference at the James M. Fitzgerald U.S. Courthouse and Federal Building.

According to court documents, Heraclio Sanchez-Rodriguez, 57, ran a transnational organized crime and drug trafficking ring targeting Alaska. Throughout the entirety of the conspiracy, Sanchez-Rodriguez was an inmate in a California state prison. He allegedly used contraband cell phones to communicate with his suppliers in Mexico and their brokers, leaders in California and Oregon, and distributors of the drug trafficking enterprise in Alaska.”

The grand jury also charged Edward Ginnis, 38, and Samantha Pearson, 37, of North Pole, with offenses related to their role in the conspiracy and with distributing fentanyl to Adam Sakkinen resulting in his death.

Over 25 defendants were also charged with money laundering conspiracy to promote drug trafficking and concealing the source of the funds. Court documents identified at least 76 separate money laundering transactions as part of the investigation, including some made internationally to Mexico.”

Defendants in this case are listed alphabetically on the DOJ website but are too numerous to mention here.

“Most defendants made their initial court appearances over the past four months before U.S. Magistrate Judges of the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska.
Department and Palmer Police Department, with significant law enforcement support from the U.S. Marshals Service, are investigating the case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephan Collins, Christopher Schroeder, Karen Vandergaw and Alana Weber are prosecuting the case,” the DOJ reported.

On Tuesday, January 30, a 19-person indictment was unsealed in Los Angeles, ten of whom have been arrested. The indictments indicate that investigators seized drugs worth $16-28 million including 845 kilograms of methamphetamine, 951 kilograms of fentanyl, four kilograms of heroin and $900,000 cash.

Drug busts include members of the Italian Mafia and Mexican Cartels

This part of the drug trafficking ring reportedly involved members of the Italian mafia along with Mexican cartels working out of Montreal, Canada.

Michael Estrada, the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California reported that, “this is a takedown of wide-ranging international drug trafficking conspiracy, that spanned three countries that involve drug suppliers connected to cartels in Mexico, drug distributors and brokers in Los Angeles, and Canadian truck drivers.”