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Troopers seize fentanyl in Moose Pass, as busts and overdoses rise around the state

Rainbow-fentanyl-m30-1.jpg
Courtesy of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration
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Rainbow fentanyl pills, pictured here, have been found around the state, including a bust yesterday in Fairbanks.

A couple driving from Seward to Nikiski were arrested Friday, Nov. 4 in Moose Pass when an Alaska State Trooper officer discovered over 150 fentanyl pills and other narcotics in their car.

In charging documents, the trooper says he pulled over 50-year-old Antwane Abron and 44-year-old Stacie Maldonado for a routine traffic stop, but suspected they might be trafficking drugs based on their behavior. After a search, the trooper found the fentanyl pills as well as under an ounce of meth and 4.22 ounces of black tar heroin, as well as over $9,000 in cash, a handgun, packing materials and a digital pocket scale.

According to the charging documents, both Abron and Maldonado are both convicted felons. They are currently being held without bail at the Seward Community Jail.

Troopers say the trafficking and use of illegal narcotics, including fentanyl, are on the rise around the state.

Spokesperson Austin McDaniel said troopers have already seized double the amount of illegal narcotics in 2022 than they did in 2021. He says last year, Alaska saw an unusually high rate of fentanyl overdoses, prompting different law enforcement agencies to pool their resources and track down as much fentanyl in the state as possible.

McDaniel said between May and October, the troopers collaborated with other state and federal law enforcement agencies on an operation that seized 212 pounds of illegal narcotics, including 2.45 million doses of fentanyl, and heroin, meth and cocaine.

“That was actually one of the highest seizure rate periods for the state of Alaska since we began tracking,” McDaniel said.

In September in Kodiak, law enforcement seized more than $650,000 worth of drugs including fentanyl as part of a large investigation into drug trafficking on the island. Today, a man arrested in that bust is facing a second indictment, after law enforcement found 11,000 fentanyl pills in an Anchorage storage locker they say belongs to him.

And just yesterday, investigators with the Alaska State Trooper’s Statewide Drug Enforcement Unit seized more than 4,000 counterfeit oxycodone pills containing fentanyl following an investigation in the Fairbanks area.

McDaniel said Alaska is categorized as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area by the federal government, which means law enforcement gets help from the federal government to track and seize illegal narcotics in the state.

Troopers say fentanyl is a focus since it’s much more potent than other opioids.

“Just two milligrams of fentanyl is enough to kill the average person,” McDaniel said.

The state distributes Narcan, a potentially life-saving drug that can reverse the effects of opioid overdose, at sites around the state. Some sites also have fentanyl test strips. There are three pickup locations in the Central Peninsula area, and you can find a map with all sites statewide at health.alaska.gov.

Riley Board is a Report For America reporter covering rural communities on the central Kenai Peninsula for KDLL.
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