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3 Fairbanks-area individuals face federal drug charges

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Three Alaskans were indicted by a federal grand jury Thursday on cocaine importation and conspiracy distribution charges, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Thomas Emmanuel Walker, 25, Stacey Nicole Steinmuller, 24, both of Fairbanks, Alaska, are charged with cocaine importation and conspiracy to possess the cocaine with intent to distribute. Tyronne Gee Burkhead, 21, of North Pole, Alaska, was indicted only on the charge of intent to distribute cocaine.

According to the court documents, in April 2010, Walker and Steinmuller arranged for more than four pounds of cocaine to be mailed to Fairbanks from Panama City, Panama. A box containing the cocaine was delivered on April 15 and the trio was arrested later the same day.

"Bringing illicit drugs into the community needlessly threatens the safety and security law-abiding citizens," said Leigh Winchell, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of HSI that oversees Alaska. "We remain committed to working with our law enforcement partners to counter this type of illegal activity."

Federal law provides for a maximum total sentence of life in prison and a fine of $4 million for Walker, with a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison. Steinmuller and Burkhead face a maximum total sentence of 40 years in prison and a fine of $2 million, with a minimum mandatory sentence of five years in prison.

ICE HSI was joined in this investigation by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the State of Alaska Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Enforcement. An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt.