2 Arrested for Importing Whiskey to Togiak

Oct 3, 2013

Mike Etuckmelra Jr., 44, and Benita Nanalook, 26, are in custody. 30 bottles of whiskey were seized at Nanalook's Togiak home Wednesday.

DILLINGHAM:  On the North Shore of Aleknagik Tuesday evening, Mike Etuckmelra, 44, and his 26-year old girlfriend Benita Nanalook, were loading a skiff, preparing to move to Togiak.

Among the belongings the two packed into the boat were at least 31 of 48 bottles of Monarch Canadian whiskey purchased the day prior at the Dillingham Liquor Store, according to authorities.

Tuesday was a near moonless evening. Sometime before midnight, with no lights on the boat, the two shoved off from the North Shore, boated down the Wood River and on to Togiak. They arrived about 1:00 a.m.

Before the sun rose that morning, a VPSO in Togiak had been called to Nanalook's house to investigate an alcohol-related motor vehicle accident involving a minor.

Correctly assuming that a substantial amount of alcohol was present, the VPSO contacted the WAANT office in Dillingham, which then applied for and obtained a warrant to search the home.

During their search Wednesday, authorities seized thirty 750ml bottles of Candian Monarch whiskey, as well as several hundred dollars in cash attributed to the sale of some of the alcohol.

One Togiak man admitted that he had bought a bottle of whiskey that night from Etuckmelra Jr. and Nanalook. He said he paid $250 for the whiskey; that's a mark up of ten times what the same bottle retails for in Dillingham.

At that price, the remaining thirty bootlegged bottles were worth an estimated $7,500 in the dry village.

Etuckmelra Jr. and Nanalook were arrested Wednesday and taken to jail in Dillingham. They are charged with two class C felonies each, one for importation and the other for selling alcohol without a license or permit.

Both were arraigned Thursday. The prosecutor cited one prior importation conviction against Nanalook, as well as prior DUI and assault convictions, and asked the court to set bail at $5,000. Judge Douglass granted that request.

Etuckmelra Jr. has 20 prior convictions, including four felonies. Most of his convictions are for, or related to, driving under the influence.

The state asked that Etuckmelra Jr. be held on $7,500 bail. Judge Douglass, acknowledging the lengthy rap sheet on the defendant's poor past performance on probation, doubled the state's request and set bail at $15,000 cash.

Both will need a third party custodian to be released.

If convicted, each faces a maximum of five years in prison.