- Associated Press - Monday, January 23, 2017

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - A 21-year-old man caught transporting methamphetamine on a ferry running between Washington state and Ketchikan, Alaska, has been sentenced to nearly two years in prison.

Jason Corey Vincent Alto was sentenced last week to 20 months in prison, the Juneau Empire reported (https://bit.ly/2j3pfih) Sunday.

Court documents say Alto was stopped by Alaska troopers in May after a K-9 alerted troopers to 3.2 pounds of meth in his luggage.

Federal prosecutors called it the single largest seizure of methamphetamine in southeast Alaska.

Alto was charged with possession with intent to distribute the drug and took a plea deal in September. The charge typically carries a 10-year mandatory minimum prison sentence, but Alto was not subject to that time frame due to his age.

Alto’s attorney had argued for a shorter sentence, saying her client was “a patsy” and didn’t know what he had been carrying the day of his arrest.

“The drug trafficker responsible for this methamphetamine saw in Jason a perfect opportunity,” Assistant Federal Defender Jamie McGrady said in a sentencing memorandum. “He was young and inexperienced, he had a drug problem and he was easily manipulated.”

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack Schmidt claimed Alto was motivated by the “quick and easy money.”

U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Burgess said he would give Alto “the benefit of the doubt” and handed down a lighter sentence than Schmidt’s recommended 57-month prison term.

“You’re extremely lucky today,” Burgess said. “You’ve got a chance; I hope you don’t blow that chance.”

Alto said he wanted to return to him home in Egegik and work toward becoming a pilot.

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Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, https://www.juneauempire.com

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