Slow week for police, but likely to pick up soon
Unalaska police caught a break in the past week, following a busy spell with a big drug bust, phony money manufactured locally, and a very large fire at a major intersection.
But activity is expected to pick up soon with more and more people in town for the busy pollock A season and other winter fisheries in the busy Bering Sea fishing port of Unalaska/Dutch Harbor, according to Deputy Police Chief Jennifer Shockley, of the Unalaska Department of Public Safety
"Our business doesn't increase until the first paycheck," Shockley said Monday, noting many new faces in town, and a surge in rental car traffic on the road.
Some progress has been made in the investigation into the fire that burned two historic warehouses at Agnes Beach on New Year's Day, at the corner of Airport Beach and Captains Bay Road, near the Bridge to the Other Side linking Unalaska and Amaknak Islands. Both roads were closed in the early stages of the fire department's response, and Airport Beach Road was reopened first while Captains Bay Road remained closed for hours.
"We have found where it started, but have not identified how it started," Shockley said. She said the Robinson family which owns the property has frequently complained to police about trespassers inside the old structures.
In a major action last month, Unalaska police charged seven people with selling the illegal drug methamphetamine, following a three-month undercover investigation, according Shockley.
The enforcement action was taken to combat rising methamphetamine use in Unalaska, she said.
The defendants charged include:
Geoffrey R. Edwards, 41, on one charge of first degree weapons misconduct, six charges of second degree controlled substance misconduct, and three counts of third degree weapons misconduct. The weapons charges involve the possession of four handguns in his home and vehicle, a crime because of Edward's felony convictions from a 2008 assault case in Unalaska. Edwards was also charged several months ago with theft from the vessel Rebecca in Captains Bay.
Sean M. Driscoll, 39, on two charges of second degree misconduct involving a controlled substance and one count of fourth degree controlled substance.
Ioane Faasavalu, 28, on a charge of third degree controlled substance misconduct.
Nicholas T. Hough, 31, on two charges of second degree controlled substance misconduct, and three counts of third degree controlled substance.
Christopher E. Oria, 28 on two charges of third degree controlled substance misconduct.
Henry M. Zablan, 37, on charges of second degree controlled substance, and two counts of third degree controlled substance misconduct.
Melissa M. McGlashan, 30, one count of third degree controlled substance misconduct.
While searching residences and vehicles associated with the various defendants, officers located several handguns, methamphetamine, heroin and several thousand dollars in cash. Additionally, stolen property in a case unrelated to drug sales was located inside one of the residences.
Zablan and Hough were charged in December with producing counterfeit U.S. currency, in a "scrubbing" operation involving removing ink from dollar bills and reprinting them as higher value money.
Shockley said that since the bust, three or four counterfeit bills were found in local businesses, probably $20s. She said the homegrown fake money operation was a first-time event for Unalaska.
Police obtained search warrants, and found phony $10, $20, and $100 bills in the residence of Zablan, a former seafood processor who has lived off and on in Unalaska since 2007 and is originally from the Philippines, Shockley said.
Hough arrived in Unalaska in 2016, she said.
Police seized counterfeiting supplies including ink and chemicals used in the bill "scrubbing" scam, which involved washing the ink off lower value bills like a $1 bill, and reprinting it at higher value. That way, the bills' texture felt familiar to the average person, Shockley said. But someone with experience handling money, like a bank teller, should be able to easily detect the difference through the money's security features, Shockley said.
Jim Paulin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.