The Kodiak Statewide Drug Enforcement Unit arrested a husband and wife as part of an effort to deal with what local law enforcement considers a major drug problem, according to a Tuesday Alaska State Trooper report.
According to the report, Donna Ford-Roberts, 33, and her husband, Jessie Ford-Roberts, 32, were arrested Monday while possessing methamphetamine and fentanyl-laced heroin.
The couple are allegedly connected to a third person, Brad Aga, who was arrested on Aug. 27 on separate drug charges, according to a court affidavit.
Kodiak Police Chief Tim Putney said operations similar to Monday’s arrest help address illegal drugs in Kodiak.
“The goal is to keep that constant pressure on the people in the community who are distributing illegal drugs,” Putney said. “We are aware of who they are under the adage of ‘it’s not what you know, it’s what you can prove. It’s just a matter of getting enough evidence.”
Before arresting Jessie and Donna Ford-Roberts, the Statewide Drug Enforcement Unit used a confidential informant to set up a series of “controlled buy operations” and collect warrant-sanctioned audio and visual verifications of the Ford-Robertses, according to a court affidavit.
According to the affidavit, a controlled buy took place Aug. 5 in which the informant contacted the couple via phone. During the phone conversation, a female and male voice were allegedly identified as belonging to Donna and Jessie Ford-Roberts based on prior law enforcement contacts.
The scheduled buy allegedly took place at the Ford-Robertses’ residence, where a dime-size bindle was obtained, according to the affidavit. Statewide Drug Enforcement Unit members field tested the substance positive for heroin; a state lab later confirmed it was a fentanyl-heroin mixture. The informant reported that both Donna and Jessie Ford-Roberts were present during the Aug. 5 buy, according to the affidavit.
A second buy was set up on Aug. 6, where the informant allegedly procured a 0.47 gram plastic bindle from Jessie Ford-Roberts, according to the affidavit. The Statewide Drug Enforcement Unit recorded the conversation, which was later used to identify Jessie Ford-Roberts as the alleged seller, according to the affidavit.
The substance purchased field tested positive for heroin, and a state test lab later confirmed it was a fentanyl-heroin mixture, according to the affidavit.
According to the affidavit, Donna Ford-Roberts was also a suspect in a separate case involving local resident Brad Aga, who was arrested Aug. 27.
During an Aug. 17 controlled buy operation targeting Aga, he told a confidential informant that he was with a female driving a black SUV and would meet the informant at a local business, according to the affidavit.
The vehicle was allegedly identified as belonging to Donna Ford-Roberts, later verified by the Statewide Drug Enforcement Unit through a records check, according to the affidavit. During an Aug. 18 buy operation involving Aga, an audio recording picked up a female voice allegedly belonging to Donna Ford Roberts, according to the affidavit.
The informant later informed members of the Statewide Drug Enforcement Unit that Aga and Donna Ford-Roberts were allegedly the only two people in the vehicle, according to the affidavit.
Both were transported to Kodiak City Jail, according to the Trooper report. According to court records, Donna Ford-Roberts faces two felony charges of misconduct involving a controlled substance and a misdemeanor count of violating conditions of release in one case, and a separate felony charge for misconduct involving a controlled substance.
Jessie Ford-Roberts faces two felony charges of misconduct involving a controlled substance, according to court records.
Both appeared in court on Tuesday, with Jessie Ford-Roberts entering a not guilty plea, according to court records. The court set a $10,000 performance bond for Donna Ford-Roberts and $5,000 for Jessie as part of conditions of release, according to court records.
According to the affidavit, a common user dose of heroin weighs about a tenth of a gram and costs an estimated $80 in Kodiak, or $600 per gram. A user dose of meth in Kodiak is estimated at $200 per gram.
“Price is dependent on supply, demand and how the dealer decides to sell his/her product,” the affidavit states. “Either way, dealers make a substantial amount of money from drug sales.”
Putney, Kodiak’s police chief, called the Statewide Drug Enforcement Unit’s efforts effective in combating drug operations on The Rock.
“It helps to have a dedicated task force of state, local and federal resources that can be used to combat the problem from all different angles,” Putney said. “Whether it’s drugs that come as parcels on the ferry, local people or from people doing body carries from the airports, we can use all those resources to combat it.”
Alaska State Troopers, Putney said, provide two investigators for the task force. In the past, the Kodiak Police Department tried to devote resources to a drug investigation detective but found it difficult to maintain.
“We’re fortunate enough to have two investigators assigned to Kodiak from the Troopers,” Putney said.
Fentanyl/heroin a major concern
According to the affidavit related to Aga’s case, the Kodiak Statewide Drug Enforcement Unit has confirmed three drug overdoses connected to fentanyl-laced heroin. In each case, Narcan prevented an overdose-related death.
“There are also numerous unreported incidents that (the) Statewide Drug Enforcement Unit is made aware of through source information,” the affidavit said.
Putney said the fentanyl-laced heroin remains a concern in Kodiak and the state as a whole.
“We seem to be behind the drug trends that the Lower 48 sees so we have been seeing fentanyl in Kodiak,” Putney said. “It is a definite concern, and it is a dangerous substance.”
According to the Alaska Department of Public Safety’s 2020 annual drug report, “fentanyl is an emerging drug in Alaska and poses a danger to society and law enforcement” in which “two milligrams can be lethal.”
Putney said people who “are dependent on heroin” in Kodiak are especially at risk.
“If they think they are buying heroin and they end up buying fentanyl, it’s going to kill them,” Putney said. “It’s definitely here. We’re even seeing some of the fake blue 30 mg oxycodone pills that were abused in Kodiak at one time. … They look like the pills, but they’re actually fentanyl. If people use those, there’s a risk of overdose there.”
Putney said information is always helpful when combating drug distribution, especially if people are willing to provide it directly to the Kodiak Police Department or Alaska State Troopers.
Putney said people who have problems with drug or substance abuse should utilize local resources from local nonprofits and health clinics.
“We can’t arrest ourselves out of this problem, and people need to see the benefit of living a sober life. People who are addicted long term need to seek help.” Putney said. “We need to continue to arrest people who are distributing drugs in our community and make drugs harder to find through interdiction efforts.”