Thursday, April 26, 2007

Alaska's U.S. Atty Nelson Cohen, A Patriot Act Appointment, Announces Gun & Drug Arrests

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Cocaine, ecstasy, methamphetamine, guns and repeat offenders -- federal authorities are announcing a major crackdown on the people they say are peddling drugs and weapons of the street.

Today the U.S. Attorney's Office made an announcement and unsealed four separate cases.

"We have now unsealed four different indictments, all dealing with guns and drugs," said Nelson Cohen, U.S. Attorney for Alaska.

There are 10 suspects in custody and each faces serious charges.

For some, life sentences and millions of dollars in fines are at stake.

The arrests and indictments are being hailed as proof that efforts on the ground by law enforcement to suppress gun violence are working.

In one of the cases, Nicholas Blackwell is named as the ring leader of a gang that used guns to protect themselves, their profits, and to enforce payment of drug debts.

He's not the only one who got caught; four other men are indicted with him: Sinoun Moth, Lamar Facine, Chase Walters, and Jeffrey Sanders.

In August, the victim of a drive-by shooting near Lake Otis Parkway and Northern Lights Boulevard told Anchorage Police, "The person that shot me last night was Nick Blackwell."

He went on to say he thought Blackwell was preparing to flee the state.

At some point, though, the law caught up with him.

The federal indictment said Blackwell was operating from Washington as recently as December, sending cocaine and ecstasy into Anchorage to his associates from the state of Washington.

Court records obtained by Channel Two show Blackwell is a member of the Soldier Click Gang.

But the feds won't say if that same gang is part of the current federal charges or is tied to any of the defendants.

Also, the same day that December drug shipment came in, codefendant Chase Walters led police on a chase through midtown, trying to escape capture after receiving a package of cocaine and meth.

Law enforcement credits teamwork with this and the other busts.

Police said all the busts have something in common.

"They all work in that realm of drugs and distributing. A lot of times they are more violent, or into drugs themselves," said Lt. Carolyn Stevens with the Anchorage Police Department.

Cohen said more arrests will be coming soon.

"This is not the end of the story today. This is simply the beginning of the story. There will be future indictments down the road," Cohen said.

He credited the interagency teamwork for bringing the suspects into custody.

In many of the cases, the maximum sentence is life. Many of the defendants have prior convictions.