Man arrested for cocaine smuggling on Seattle-to-Fairbanks flight

Posted: Wednesday, October 17, 2001

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- A Fairbanks man is charged with smuggling almost 2 pounds of cocaine into Fairbanks on a flight from Seattle.

Torrance Earl, 25, was arrested Thursday night by officers of Fairbanks Airport Police and the Alaska State Troopers Statewide Drug Enforcement Unit after a traffic stop outside Fairbanks International Airport.

Officers were tipped off that Earl might be carrying drugs after illegal drugs were found in the possession of a female companion during a random bag search at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Thursday, said Trooper Sgt. J.R. Roberts of the Drug Enforcement Unit.

Roberts said the woman was taken into custody but that Earl's bag was not searched. He was heading to Fairbanks by the time authorities realized he might also have been smuggling drugs.

''The plane was probably long gone when they found that out,'' Roberts told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

According to the criminal complaint, authorities were tipped off by Sea-Tac police, and Roberts and a Fairbanks Airport police officer tried to question Earl as he entered into a taxi in front of the airport. Instead, the taxi sped off, so the officers followed and stopped the cab.

The taxi driver told the officers that Earl had tossed a backpack out of the cab, the complaint states. The officers found the bag in a ditch. The bag was partially open and contained two packages wrapped in duct tape. One of the packages had been opened and contained a chunky white powder the officers believed to be cocaine.

''I did a field test,'' Roberts stated. ''It field-tested positive for cocaine.''

According to the complaint, Earl admitted that the packages contained $22,000 worth of cocaine he had purchased in Seattle.

Earl was arrested and charged with third-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Earl was arraigned on Friday and is in custody on $30,000 bail.

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