AST’s Statewide Drug Enforcement Unit, the Postal Inspection Service and the Nome Police Department were at the scene of the arrest of Joanne Stickel on Fourth Avenue in Nome yesterday.

Troopers seize cocaine shipment, Nome woman arrested

A Nome woman was arrested at her residence in Nome yesterday, March 5, after she allegedly received and opened a parcel with 184 grams of cocaine. 


According to court documents, Joanne Stickel, age 63, faces charges of misconduct involving controlled substances in the third degree, a class B felony, for possession with the intent to distribute cocaine. 


Stickel was taken to the Anvil Mountain Correctional Center where she is being held without bail, according to the Alaska State Troopers. 


Her arraignment has been scheduled for the afternoon of March 7.


The initial charging document filed in Nome’s Second Judicial District Court said that Anchorage-based U.S. Postal Inspectors seized a priority express package addressed to the “Stickel Family” on March 5. The sender was labeled “Grandmother” with an address in Carlsbad, California, a town north of San Diego. 


Inspectors suspected the package contained drugs and obtained a search warrant. They said they found 184 grams of white powder that tested positive for cocaine. 


According to an AST press release, cocaine in Nome typically sells for $150 per gram, giving this shipment an approximate street value of $27, 600. 


AST’s Statewide Drug Enforcement Unit, the Postal Inspection Service and the Nome Police Department worked together to conduct a “controlled delivery” of the parcel to Nome the same day. 


According to the charging document, law enforcement added monitoring equipment to the package and Stickel was surveilled as she retrieved the parcel from the post office and took it home.


Officers with the Western Alaska Alcohol and Narcotics Team—which is part of AST’s Statewide Drug Enforcement Unit—reported that they entered Stickel’s residence on East 4th Ave. after they received an alert that the package had been opened.


Photos taken at the scene show a man being detained as well, but AST Communications Director Austin McDaniel said that only Stickel so far has been charged in this case. 


“Our investigation is still ongoing,” McDaniel said. “Other people could be charged, other people could be arrested as that investigation continues.”


Law enforcement officials said this bust was related to ongoing work to investigate drug distribution in the region.


“This is just part of our regular ongoing efforts that we've been very much focused on since overdose deaths started spiking in 2021,” McDaniel said. 

Stickel’s arraignment was moved to the Unalakleet Courthouse. On March 7, Judge Heidi Ivanoff set a cash bail at $10,000.


“These charges are very serious,” Ivanoff said. “Nome is a hub community, so when drugs come into Nome, they tend to filter out into the villages, too.”


Ivanoff scheduled a preliminary hearing for Thursday, March 14, at 11 a.m. in the Unalakleet Courthouse.

This article has been updated on March 7 with information on the March 7 court proceedings, from its original version posted March 6.



The Nome Nugget

PO Box 610
Nome, Alaska 99762

Phone: (907) 443-5235
Fax: (907) 443-5112

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