Nov. 8, 2023 – From a prison cell in California, federal prosecutors allege, a 56-year-old inmate directed an Alaska drug trafficking ring that in recent years smuggled huge quantities of fentanyl, heroin, and methamphetamine to some of the state’s smallest villages through a network of postal shippers and drug couriers.

In Alaska, meanwhile, a woman incarcerated at Hiland Mountain Correctional Center recruited a fellow inmate on the cusp of release to join the drug ring, federal prosecutors wrote in an indictment unsealed in October. That woman, the U.S. Attorney now alleges, quickly rose through the group’s ranks, culminating in what prosecutors say was the killing of two Alaska women near Trapper Creek at the behest of the enterprise’s leader in California.

The prosecutors contend that the group was both brutal and prolific: During 15 months members allegedly sent a staggering 58.5 kilograms of fentanyl — nearly 130 pounds — to Alaska communities, including villages as small as Savoonga and Tyonek. Last year, the Department of Public Safety’s Statewide Drug Enforcement unit seized 27 kilograms of fentanyl, less than half the amount law enforcement say was bound for Alaska when it was intercepted from people allegedly connected with the organization.