A series of overdoses in Unalaska last month, including one fatality, has led to the arrests of two Oregon men on federal drug charges.
Both Michael Hindman and Chopper Ellingsworth pleaded not guilty last week to conspiracy to distribute heroin and methamphetamine through the U.S. Postal Service.
Their cases come after Unalaska police responded to four overdoses between Oct. 3 and 16, including one fatal overdose that killed 26-year-old fisherman Per Nyhammer of Bothell, Washington.
In trying to identify the source of the drugs, Interim Police Chief John Lucking said he requested help from the U.S. Postal Inspector and Coast Guard Investigative Services.
"It is a significant response," said Lucking. "It involves the death of a young man, so we treat it with an absolute priority."
According to charging documents, investigators interviewed a person who bought heroin around the time of the overdoses.
That led them to search the Unalaska home of a suspected dealer, where the charges said they found heroin, meth, psilocybin mushrooms, and "miscellaneous" pills, as well as shipping labels and $3,500 cash in suspected drug profits.
After agreeing to cooperate, the dealer admitted to selling drugs and told investigators the shipments came from Hindman and Ellingsworth in Gresham, Oregon.
Both men are in custody, with a trial scheduled for January. Right now, their distribution charges are not tied directly to the overdoses, but Lucking said the investigation is ongoing and more charges will likely be filed.
Ellingsworth already faces a second charge for being a felon in possession of a firearm. Court documents show he has a prior drug conviction in Washington, while Hindman has one from selling heroin in Unalaska in 2013.
Hindman and Ellingsworth's attorneys did not return requests for comment.
Unalaska police said they are not aware of any overdoses on the island since the fatality on Oct. 16.