Safer Alaska, Building Resilient Communities

Addressing the Opioid Epidemic and Drug Trafficking

Woman over man with a helicopter above herTaking steps to address substance abuse has become particularly important as the nationwide opioid epidemic has struck Alaska– necessitating an emergency declaration from Governor Walker and instituting an incident command structure to marshal resources and respond to the most urgent and immediate impacts. The State will also focus efforts on reducing access to controlled substances generally by allocating additional state resources, in coordination with our federal partners, to investigate and prosecute drug trafficking crimes, and advancing legislation to help stem the tide of the importation of drugs.
A uniformed military member standing next to an Alaska State Trooper
71. Governor Walker issued a Disaster Declaration and established incident command structure to coordinate state efforts to combat the opioid epidemic. COMPLETED.
72. The state continues to execute the
recommendations of the Opioid Policy Task Force and evaluate further measures to combat opioid abuse, including: expanding treatment capacities at existing facilities and recovery networks; improving access to group recovery in prisons; providing tools and resources to “second chance employers”; expanding drug take- back programs; increasing security measures to prevent importation  of opioids on bush airlines, airports, ferries, etc.; funding public  and  provider education campaigns; fund distribution of overdose education materials and naloxone kits to first responders.

a.       COMPLETED: DHSS created the Opioid Data Dashboard to provide current, publicly accessible data on the health effects of the opioid epidemic and the state’s response.

b.       IN PROGRESS: Situation reports detailing ongoing efforts provided to the work group every 3 weeks.

c.       IN PROGRESS: After engaging with communities throughout Alaska, the Office of Substance Misuse and Addiction Prevention (OSMAP) is leading efforts to develop the Alaska Opioid Response Action Plan. The Action Plan will comprehensively address the opioid crisis through state and community actions with measurable and achievable outcomes.
73. Explore ways to increase use of social media to promote positive, useful messages for parents to help in drug and crime prevention. (DPS, DHSS)


a.       DHSS has produced several videos that highlight Alaskans dealing with opioid addiction and how to safely dispose of unused prescription pills. DHSS will continue to produce more opioid-related web videos and other material for DHSS social media channels.

b.       DHSS and DPS in August produced a number of social media posts relating to the U.S. Surgeon General’s visit to Alaska and focusing on the importance of distributing Naloxone to the public.
74. Evaluate tools for citizens to text tips to law enforcement (e.g. Crime Stoppers P3 mobile app). (DPS) IN PROGRESS: Potential off-the-shelf tools were identified for evaluation; DPS is evaluating workflow & logistics involved.
75. Increase state resources directed at catching and prosecuting drug traffickers, including:

a.       Create a statewide drug prosecutor position (LAW) and

b.       Add drug dogs to assist in disrupting the drug trade and catch traffickers. (DPS, DOT)

a.       COMPLETED: The Legislature approved the Governor’s FY19 budget request for a statewide drug prosecutor position; LAW has filled the position.

b.      IN PROGRESS: Using public and private funding, several new drug dogs are assisting with drug interdiction. DPS and LAW are instituting new K-9 search and seizure training and developing new policy to aid the efforts.
76. Develop a statewide coordination plan and standards for drug dogs working with private and public stakeholders, potentially to include a coordinator in the Alaska Police Standards Council (APSC), training protocol led by the statewide drug prosecutor, and APSC certification of K9 officers. (DPS, LAW) IN PROGRESS: Working to identify and allocate needed resources to develop policy in coordination with the new statewide drug prosecutor. DPS and statewide drug prosecutor have drafted K9 protocols and guidelines which are in final review.
77. Seek a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) designation to increase availability of federal funds for drug investigations. (DPS)

COMPLETED: Petition approved. Alaska designated a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area by federal government.


ONGOING: Alaska will receive $5 million in federal dollars by the end of 2018 to combat drug trafficking in Alaska communities and additional funds in future years; new enforcement initiatives to be developed this fall.

78. Better coordinate drug enforcement efforts with federal partners, including:

a.       Increased collaboration with Ted Stevens International Airport Police for recently established WAANT Unit;

b.       Cross-deputize a state prosecutor as a Special Assistant United States Attorney to prosecute drug offenses in federal court; and

c.       Work with federal law enforcement agencies in implementing the Anti- Violent Crime Strategy.

ONGOING: Generally, collaboration with federal partners continues as an ongoing effort.

a.      DPS statewide Drug Enforcement Unit is discussing increased collaboration with Ted Stevens International Airport and other airport partners.

b.      The statewide drug prosecutor is in the process of being cross-deputized by federal authorities.

c.      Efforts in coordination with federal law enforcement agencies are ongoing.
79. Propose legislation to more effectively combat drug trafficking.

COMPLETED: Governor’s legislative proposals for 2018 session included allowing dangerous drugs to be scheduled by regulation to allow a faster state response to new drugs. The proposal was included in HB 312 which passed May 11, 2018.


a.       [NEW] Governor will introduce legislation next session to increase penalties for trafficking drugs and create a new Class A felony for trafficking large amounts of controlled substances or any amount of fentanyl.

b.      [NEW] Governor will introduce legislation to create tiered approach for penalties for possession of drugs to better incentivize treatment and bring down property crime rates.
80. [NEW] Seek federal legislation to better combat opioids. [NEW] ONGOING: The Attorney General has consulted with Alaska’s congressional delegation and joined a letter of other state attorneys general seeking federal legislation to have fentanyl derivatives illegal upon manufacture, allowing a faster, proactive response to new drugs that hit the streets. New federal legislation expected this fall.
81. Better coordination and communication between law enforcement and transportation companies to combat drug trafficking through mail and ports of entry. ONGOING: Necessary information sharing among stakeholders ongoing. State met with air carriers, some of which agreed to allow greater law enforcement access to facilities to combat drug and alcohol trafficking to rural Alaska.
82. [NEW] Create Overdose Fatality Review Panel to have interagency team review overdose deaths for causes and develop additional prevention measures. [NEW] Governor will seek legislation to create a panel to review overdose fatalities. State has applied for federal grant funding to stand up the panel.

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