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Palmer Man Indicted for Role in Heroin Related Death

FEB 19 (ANCHORAGE, Alaska) – On February 17, 2016,  a Federal Grand Jury in the District of Alaska returned an indictment charging a Palmer man with multiple drug felonies, including one count of distributing heroin that led to the death of a young man who used the heroin.

“Nationwide, a drug overdose occurs every 12 minutes in which a life is taken by anonymous predators, however today, this heroin dealer is named and will face full accountability,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Keith Weis.

Hiram Luis Ducasse, Jr., 26, is the only defendant named in the three-count indictment. The first count charges Ducasse with conspiring with others to distribute heroin. The second and third counts both charge Ducasse with actually distributing heroin or otherwise possessing heroin with the intent to distribute it.  The second count specifically charges Ducasse with distributing the heroin that resulted in the death of another individual, listed in the indictment as M.C.

The indictment stems from an investigation launched by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Alaska State Troopers (AST) after M.C.’s death in December 2015. It is related to two other indictments also issued by the federal grand jury today charging five other individuals from Wasilla, Palmer, and California with drug trafficking and related gun crimes.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie C. Courter, who presented the case to the grand jury, indicated that Ducasse faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 20 years in prison for the heroin distribution that led to M.C.’s death. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed will be based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history of the defendant.

The charges against Ducasse and the related indictments are the latest in the ongoing efforts of federal and state law enforcement to combat the increasing prevalence of heroin in our community. According to a February 2015 publication issued by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), overdose deaths from heroin abuse have more than doubled since 2010. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that, in 2013 alone, drug overdose was the leading cause of injury death. That year, overdoses caused more deaths than motor vehicle traffic accidents and firearms. Similarly, according to the DEA, of the approximately 47,055 unintentional drug overdose deaths that occurred in the United States in 2014, 61 percent of those (28,647) were caused by prescription painkillers and heroin.

Ducasse will be arraigned in federal court in the coming days. The DEA and AST conducted the investigation leading to the indictment in this case.

An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

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