Drug mule Jason Alto, 21, of Egegik caught May 30 with three pounds of meth on board the ferry Kennicott. US District Court Judge Timothy Burgess handed down 20 month jail sentence with five years probation.
Audio Transcript: A young man from Egegik has been given a 20 month jail sentence after he pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute more than three pounds of methamphetamines.
Jason Corey Vincent Alto, 21, was caught May 30 last year while he was traveling on the ferry vessel Kennicott from Washington State towards Whittier.
The US Coast Guard and state trooper drug enforcement cooperated on the bust which happened in Ketchikan.
Jack Schmidt is the assistant US attorney in the Juneau office who prosecuted the case in federal court.
“Mr. Alto had been carrying in excess of three pounds of methamphetamine on the Alaska state ferry. And just happenstance that when he disembarked in Ketchikan, he exhibited signs that he was potentially a drug trafficker. He was contacted, and they got a warrant, and a dog hit on his luggage which contained the three pounds of methamphetamine.”
Depending on how it was cut, that could have been more than 5000 doses, and the street value depended on what part of the state it was bound for, which Schmidt said was determined in the investigation. He did say it was the largest meth bust ever in Southeast Alaska.
"Typically we have people dealing in ounces, maybe in the half pound range. It’s highly unusual to see anything above a kilo, which is about 2.2 pounds, and here it was nearly three pounds," he said.
Alto, then a 20-year-old with substance abuse problems, was classified as a drug mule, responsible for trafficking the narcotics but likely not for dealing them.
Schmidt had asked for nearly three times the jail sentence that US District Court Judge Timothy Burgess handed down.
“I thought that sending a message was an important aspect of the case, given the quantity of the amount of drugs," said Schmidt. "But the defendant had a fairly minimal criminal history, and he was young, and I think those were the things the judge had taken into consideration in fashioning the sentence the way he did.”
According to reporting in the Juneau Empire, Alto told the judge he plans to return to Egegik and study to become a commercial pilot. He is in custody and will serve the remainder of his twenty months in jail before beginning five years of supervised release.
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