FAIRBANKS—The scales weren’t a tip-off, but the 8 pounds of methamphetamine allegedly found in a Fairbanks gold-buying office this month led police to suspect an ex-employee was distributing the drug.
Two Fairbanks men had federal court dates scheduled for this week on drugs charges that stem from the suspicions of a retail gold assessing store owner who reported finding drugs in a company safe earlier this month.
Federal charges accuse Robert Michael Curry and Matthew Paul Lugin of possessing methamphetamine with intent to distribute. They’ve both been charged, but neither has been indicted. Lugin is in custody at Fairbanks Correctional Center. Curry has been released to a third-party custodian.
The federal Drug Enforcement Administration began investigating June 6 when the Anchorage owner of Oxford Assaying and Refining reported drugs he found inside two small safes within a larger company safe, according to an affidavit filed in court from DEA Special Agent Daniel Lakin.
One safe contained 8.29 pounds of methamphetamine and $27,150, according to the affidavit. The other had “gold and silver coins, ivory and gemstones, along with a smaller bag containing a substance that tested presumptively positive for the presence of methamphetamine, as well as paperwork bearing the name of Robert Curry.
The owner of the business suspected Curry, who was the lone employee of the Fairbanks office and who the owner had recently fired because he suspected Curry was embezzling from the business.
Eight pounds of methamphetamine is a huge quantity of the drug, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Cooper, who’s prosecuting the case. It’s worth a few hundred thousand dollars, he said.
Federal agents executed a search warrant on Curry’s home in the Riverview neighborhood on June 16. The agents found a small amount of methamphetamine and a loaded pistol in a backpack with an Oxford Assaying and Refining logo. Curry said the backpack was his but that the safe belonged to his co-defendant, according to the affidavit.
“Curry stated he had stored a safe for Lugin on three other occasions and that he was not absolutely sure it contained methamphetamine but guessed it did,” according to Lakin’s affidavit.
Federal agents organized a sting in which Lugin allegedly met with Curry to pick up the safe and drop of 8 grams of meth.
Curry is represented by Fairbanks attorney Bill Satterberg, whose partner Thomas Temple said he had no comment on the case at this stage. Federal public defender MJ Haden is representing Lugin.