Ketchikan has a drug problem.
Largely, it’s methamphetamine.
In the past two months, the Ketchikan Police Department and the Alaska State Troopers confiscated several hundred thousand dollars in meth coming into the community by air and sea.
That’s what was confiscated; it’s likely more than that made its way here.
But the problem doesn’t begin and end with meth, either. In at least one of the recent cases, local authorities also took possession of heroin. Nor, when it comes to a community drug problem, is it isolated to meth and heroin. The presence of other opioids in Ketchikan, as in other Alaska communities, is documented in court and health care records, and has been declared an emergency at both state and national levels.
On the local level, however, it’s especially concerning to see evidence of the meth problem alone. Since the first week in October, here are Ketchikan’s documented meth-related cases:
— Law enforcement arrested a 54-year-old Ketchikan man at the start of the week for allegedly attempting to smuggle more than $40,000 worth of methamphetamine — or 3.92 ounces — into the community via a barged freight shipment.
How? Police discovered the meth welded into a hydraulic jack, which had been put on a pallet.
— Authorities arrested a 37-year-old woman and 26-year-old man, both of Washington state, Nov. 9 for allegedly smuggling more than $100,000 worth of methamphetamine into Ketchikan International Airport.
How? The woman carried it in a body cavity.
— City police and state troopers arrested two 31-year-old men and a 52-year-old Ketchikan woman Oct. 3 in downtown Ketchikan in a case involving confiscation of a pound of methamphetamine, 2.75 ounces of heroin and weapons. The meth was valued at well over $200,000 and the heroin at at least $70,000. An assault rifle with armor-piercing bullets was taken into custody, as well.
How did all of this make it to Ketchikan? Why is it coming into Ketchikan, and how does Ketchikan close the door to it?
No one has all of the answers. But some are very obvious.
There’s a demand, to say the least. But the city police and troopers have made a significant cut in the supply recently. Continuing to reduce the supply is a key part of the solution to Ketchikan’s drug problem.
Another is what Ketchikan has done for decades, educating students, beginning in the earliest grades, to the perils of meth and other drugs. Education, while it’s difficult to gauge its success on this specific issue, has proven its effectiveness again and again. As a result, anti-drug information likely has been invaluable for some students and communities.
Most importantly, Ketchikan remains tuned to the problem of drugs, and the recent cases focus on what has become one of the drugs of choice here — methamphetamine. It is described as one of the cheaper drugs. It might not cost as much as some of the others, but it does as much, if not more, damage in other ways.
There’s no easy answer to the meth problem — or to the problem of other drugs — or it would have been implemented. But, the cases police and troopers are dealing with illustrate the status of the problem, and that’s the beginning of addressing it.
— Ketchikan Daily News, Dec. 2