Eielson airmen detained in drug raid

Posted: Wednesday, December 11, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Nine airmen at Eielson Air Force Base have been detained on suspicions of using marijuana, hallucinogenic mushrooms, cocaine and steroids.

The raid Sunday prompted the base commander to order an early-morning drug test for about 1,000 other airmen on Monday. The Air Force Office of Special Investigations confiscated drugs from dorm rooms Sunday and the nine airmen were taken into custody, base spokeswoman Maj. Valerie Trefts told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

One of the airmen is suspected of distributing drugs to the others, Trefts said.

The names of the airmen were not released because they have not been charged.

''Right now they've just been apprehended and the investigation will continue,'' she said. The amount and types of drugs found were not released because of the ongoing investigation, Trefts said.

The bust prompted base commander Col. Jan-Marc Jouas to order a unit-wide urinalysis test for about 1,000 airmen in the maintenance unit at 5 a.m. Monday, Trefts said.

''The Air Force has zero tolerance for drug use, period,'' Trefts said. ''If people want to use drugs they shouldn't sign on the dotted line.''

That includes steroids, which are considered illegal if they're not prescribed by a medical physician.

The airmen were members of the 354th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and 354th Maintenance Squadrons. As soon as it was suspected the nine were possibly using drugs, their work was closely monitored, Trefts said. She declined to say how long the investigation had been going on.

''The majority of the airmen that were apprehended were first-term airmen,'' she said, which means they are ''usually younger and newer troops.''

There are many different degrees of punishment the military can pass down, but Trefts said based on military regulations, the most a service member could face if found guilty during a court-martial of marijuana use is a dishonorable discharge and confinement for two years.

For harder drug use, such as cocaine, the maximum penalty could be a dishonorable discharge and five years jail time. Anyone found guilty during a court-martial of distribution of an illegal drug could face up to 15 years in military prison and a dishonorable discharge.

''What will happen next for the airmen will depend on what the investigation finds and then, based on that information, it will go to the base legal office, who will work with the commanders of the airmen and Col. Jouas to determine the appropriate measures to take,'' Trefts said.

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