The owner and operator of Paradise Inn on Spenard Road in Anchorage stands accused of selling a pound of methamphetamine to an FBI informant in the basement of his business, according to a federal criminal complaint.
Song appeared in federal court Monday wearing a yellow Anchorage Correctional Complex jumpsuit. He wore headphones through which a Korean interpreter translated proceedings.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin McCoy did not set bail and ordered Song to remain in custody pending trial.
Song’s attorney, Rex Butler, said he was not prepared to argue against the government’s allegations and did not request that the court set conditions of release. Butler said he was in the process of finding a reliable third-party custodian for Song.
FBI Special Agent Daryl Allison testified Monday during a preliminary hearing that Song had already been under investigation for several years for “human trafficking,” or prostitution. But the drug investigation began after authorities identified an informant willing to assist them in their investigation.
That informant had a conversation with a man identified in the complaint but who has not been charged, with the informant asking about the cost of drugs in Alaska. The man named in the complaint told the informant he could supply drugs, Allison said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Feldis declined to comment whether other individuals, including the man named in the complaint, might be charged in the drug case.
The informant called Song and the man on Sept. 26 to set up a meeting at Paradise Inn, a cocktail lounge and hotel in Spenard.
The building is marked by faded signage displaying the business name and a fake palm tree taller than the one-story building. It’s situated among the bars, pawn shops and restaurants that line Spenard Road.
Federal agents equipped the informant with audio and video recorders, according to the complaint.
The informant arrived at Paradise Inn shortly after 11 p.m. and was led to the basement. The informant said he had the money to buy a pound of meth. Shortly thereafter, Song joined them in the basement; Song and the other man yelled at the informant for making them wait so long to conduct the drug deal, according to the charges.
During the basement conversation, Song could be heard saying, “clear,” a street term for meth, Allison said. However, Butler questioned the reliability of authorities’ interpretation of Song’s speech. Allison admitted on the stand that much of what Song said in the basement was indiscernible.
Drugs in hand — allegedly provided in a plastic bag inside a cloth Crown Royal whisky bag — the informant returned to the FBI agents. It was determined that the informant paid for a pound but was given only about 12 ounces, 4 ounces short.
Agents made the informant return to Paradise Inn and confront the men about being “shorted,” according to the complaint. Two additional bags of meth were allegedly handed over.
The informant purchased the drugs for $33,000, said Allison.
Butler questioned the FBI agent about whether Song handled the alleged bags of meth. He apparently did not touch the bags but was caught on tape counting the money they were purchased with, according to Allison.
Following testimony from the government witness, McCoy said it was clear a drug deal had occurred and the evidence suggested Song was somehow involved. He ordered Song detained until the defendant has a chance to rebut the government’s evidence.
Owners of two other businesses along the same stretch of Spenard said they were not aware of or never noticed drug activity specifically related to Paradise Inn.
Since 2004, 649 calls for police service came from Paradise Inn, according to numbers provided by the Anchorage Police Department. “Disturbance” was the most common reason officers responded to the business, followed by warrant services, welfare checks, follow-up investigations and field interviews.
Twenty of the calls over the 10 years were related to drugs, according to the data.
Police spokesperson Anita Shell said in an email that Paradise Inn is not considered a problem spot based on the data.
“They have an average amount of calls for service for a hotel (of) their size,” she said.