Meth, heroin and marijuana top peninsula illicit drug seizures

Peninsula police departments confiscated about $150,000 in illegal drugs — the majority heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana — in 2017, according to a new Alaska State Troopers report.

Released Wednesday by the Alaska State Troopers Statewide Drug Enforcement Unit (SDEU), the 2017 Annual Drug Report compiled information on illegal drug trafficking from a number of agencies, including local police departments, Trooper detachments, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI, Homeland Security and the SDEU.

During the 2017 calendar year, law enforcement agencies across the state seized 151,886 grams, approximately 152 kilos, of the three most prevalent illegal drugs — cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine, according to the report.

Although the amount of cocaine seized has remained relatively steady since 2013, seizures of heroin in 2017 declined significantly from 2016. Methamphetamine seizures, however, showed a marked rise from 2016 to 2017.

The report noted that seizures of fentanyl — a synthetic opioid that can be 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine — were also on the rise in 2017, during which law enforcement agencies seized 24,235 lethal doses of the drug. And while number of overdose deaths from heroin and prescription opioids both dropped in 2017 — from 49 to 36 and 53 to 50, respectively — deaths related to fentanyl and other synthetic opioids rose from eight in 2016 to 37 in 2017.

On the peninsula, police departments in Homer, Soldotna, Seward and Kenai confiscated about 344 grams — or about a third of a kilo — of the heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. Peninsula police departments confiscated an additional 666 grams of illegal marijuana, worth approximately $19,000.

Kenai and Soldotna far outstripped other areas of the peninsula for drug-related arrests and seizures. The Kenai Police Department investigated 58 drug-related incidents, and seized $65,565 worth of drugs. While the majority of drug seizures were split evenly between heroin and methamphetamine in Kenai, in Soldotna, methamphetamine seizures were responsible for approximately $59,540 of the $69,845 worth of drugs confiscated by police.

Reach Erin Thompson at ethompson@peninsulaclarion.com.

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