K9 troopers assist in sniffing out illegal drugs

K9 Balu is one of the scent-detection canines for the Anchorage-based Trooper Post. Photo by AST

by Greg Lincoln

Back in 2006 Bethel had a drug sniffing dog named Sirius. This hardworking K9 served as a Trooper for the Alaska Bureau of Alcohol & Drug Enforcement Western Alaska Alcohol & Narcotics Team, Bethel post ‘N’ Detachment, or WAANT.

K9 Sirius was a Belgian Malinois, his partner was Investigator Joseph Hazelaar.

The following is from our archives – the August 30th, 2006 issue, written by Investigator Hazelaar:

Trooper K9 Sirius started his career with Inv. Hazelaar in Fairbanks in the spring of 2002 where he served diligently for three years as a dual-purpose K9. The K9 had the ability to protect his handler, apprehend fleeing suspects, track dangerous felons, search dark buildings, recover hidden evidence, and find lost victims.

During his tenure in Fairbanks, K9 Sirius was recorded with 103 arrests, 86 of them coming from tracking the suspect, 9 apprehensions, and 8 arrests coming from the mere presence of the K9 and the suspect surrendering prior to the K9 being deployed.

K9 Sirius was involved in 17 search and rescues in Fairbanks that resulted in locating various lost persons, children, or elderly. K9 Sirius was a great public speaker, loved kids, and was the star in hundreds of public demonstrations.

More importantly K9 Sirius protected his handler Trooper Joseph Hazelaar every day without complaint or regard to his own safety. He did this for the simple reward of a pat on the head and a kiss on the nose.

K9 Sirius traveled to Bethel with Investigator Hazelaar to service the YK Delta with his scent detection ability in the fall of 2005. He would assist the Western Alaska Alcohol and Narcotics Team, Bethel Police, and the Alaska State Troopers with the detection of various narcotics that plague western Alaska.

With medical problems that slowed his initial start, K9 Sirius only had the ability to work for the citizens for approximately 6 months prior to his passing away. In that short time, K9 Sirius was the sole reason for 41 arrests in drug trafficking to the YK Delta. Of those arrests, K9 Sirius was attributed with a total of 57 pounds of marijuana seized, 7 ounces of Cocaine, 63 bottles of Distilled spirits, $93,000.00 in currency seized, and four vehicles. The total Street value on the narcotics and alcohol totaled $1,350,650.00 on the street and the total value on assets seized totaled over $175,000.00.


Troopers and others mourned the untimely passing of K9 Sirius. But as we can all see, his work made quite an impact on our city.

On April 7, 2017, K9 Balu, a 20-month old Belgium Malinois, began working as a single-purpose scent detection canine for the Alaska State Troopers in the Anchorage area. Since being on the job, K9 Balu has sniffed out some pretty impressive finds, said the Trooper post. He has been deployed nine times as of May 10th, 2017 which has resulted in $40,860.00 in cash, 954.63 grams (2.1 lbs.) of methamphetamine and 2.5 grams of heroin seizures.

And also now this past summer, we have the Alaska State Trooper Detector Canine Academy 2017 Graduates.

After completing a six week AST K-9 Detector Academy, ending on May 26, 2017, five K-9 teams are now certified for drug detection work.

Equipping communities around the state with drug dogs is part of Governor Bill Walker’s Safer Alaska initiative and now AST will have six certified dog teams in drug detection, three detector only dogs and 3 dual-purpose (Detector and Patrol).

Department of Corrections will have one detector dog team.

The certification is considered one of the most difficult in the world due to the number of searches and use of sight, smells, sound and situations in the search areas. The handlers completed a comprehensive final exam to test their knowledge of dog psychology, training philosophy and detection handling. The dogs ranged in age and experience from brand new, untrained dogs to dogs who have certified in the past. The same is true for the handlers.

The K-9 Teams are:

Investigator Joel Miner and K9 MOCHA – DEA Task Force Anchorage

Investigator Larry Dur’an and K9 Misty, Ketchikan SDEU

Investigator Andrew Ballesteros and K9 Mak, MatSu SDEU

Trooper Daron Cooper and K9 Blazer, MatSu Patrol

Trooper Andy Deveaux and K9 Skippy, MatSu Patrol

Trooper Christine Joslin and K9 Scout Fairbanks Patrol

Officer Joshua Wood and K9 Koda – Department of Corrections

Inv. Miner and Inv. Dur’an are certified as Canine Instructors for AST at the conclusion of this academy. Both of their dogs, K9 MOCHA and K9 Misty certified on April 6, 2017. Inv. Miner and K9 MOCHA have conducted 15 searches in 50 days, resulting in seizures of: 87.6 grams of Heroin, 470.6 grams of Cocaine, 3,820.53 grams of Methamphetamine, $42,342.00 in cash, 3 guns, 150 Oxycodone pills, 8 grams of psylicibin mushrooms and 1 gram of LSD.

K9 Misty was out of commission for a while for spaying surgery after the first academy concluded and has had the opportunity to conduct one search with a seizure of $10,000.00 in cash and a small amount of controlled substance.

The Detector Canine Academy graduation ceremony was held at the DPS Crime Detection Laboratory on May 26th, 2017.

Quyana for your service.