Federal kidnapping, drug charges announced in 2017 Anchorage case

U.S. Attorney Brian Schroder speaks at a press conference in Anchorage on federal charges in an August 2017 case (Photo: Zachariah Hughes – Alaska Public Media, Anchorage)

On Tuesday, federal officials announced a number of charges in a high-profile violent crime that happened last year in Anchorage. The Justice Department says the case is an example of growing partnerships between federal, state and local law enforcement to combat violent crime.

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Speaking at a press conference in Anchorage flanked by prominent police and prosecutors, U.S. Attorney Brian Schroder said his office is charging five Anchorage residents with serious felonies like drug trafficking and kidnapping. Charging documents name Macauther Vaifunua, Faamanu Vaifanua, Jeffrey Ahvan, Rex Faumui and Tamole Lauina as defendants.

The alleged incident happened in August of 2017, when, according to Schroder, a victim suffered extreme physical injuries “as a result of being beaten with a baseball bat, a metal broomstick, and stomps to the head.”

“He was then put in a dog kennel,” Schroder continued. He said the defendants then allegedly ordered another man, at gun point, “to get rid of the victim.”

Instead, the driver brought the injured man to the hospital, and he has since recovered enough to cooperate with law enforcement.

During the press conference, speakers cited the case as one of several recent examples demonstrating that law enforcement agencies are working together more closely to investigate and prosecute violent crime in Alaska.

According to Schroder, convictions in federal cases can bring heftier sentences that are determined by the seriousness of the crime and a defendant’s criminal history. He also pointed to the recent state charges against Peter Wilson in a high profile Kotzebue case as stemming from local police partnering extensively with state troopers and FBI agents.

“Both these cases reflect, I think, one very important common factor,” Schroder said. “All these people involved leaving their egos at the door and doing what’s best for the state of Alaska.”

Federal sentencing guidelines for the kidnapping and drug charges in the 2017 Anchorage case range from a few years to life in prison.