A young man from the Bristol Bay community of Egegik has been given a 20-month jail sentence after he pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute more than three pounds of methamphetamine.
21-year-old Jason Corey Vincent Alto 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 U.S. attorney in the Juneau office who prosecuted the case in federal court.
“Mr. Alto had been carrying an excess three pounds of methamphetamine on the Alaska State ferry and it’s just happenstance when he disembarked at Ketchikan, he exhibited signs that he potentially was a drug trafficker,” Schmidt said. “He was contacted and they got a warrant and a dog hit on his luggage which contained the three pounds of methamphetamine.”
That much meth could have been cut into about 5,000 doses. Its street value depended on where it ended up in the state, which Schmidt said he doesn’t know. He did say it’s the largest ever meth seizure in Southeast Alaska.
“Typically, we have people dealing in ounces, maybe the half-pound range,” Schmidt said. “It’s highly unusual to see anything above a kilo which is about 2.2 pounds. And here it was nearly three pounds.”
Alto, then a 21-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 as much jail time as Judge Timothy Burgess handed down.
“I thought that sending a message was an important aspect to the case given the quantity of the amount of drugs,” Schmidt said. “But the defendant had a fairly minimal criminal history and he was young and so I think those are the things that 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.