High-Profile Guam Drug Trafficking Case Headed To Trial
By Jerick Sablan
HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, June 12, 2013) – A high-profile criminal case that the U.S. Attorney's office called one of the largest organized crime and narcotic trafficking cases on Guam in recent years is set to go to trial this week.
The apparent leader of the alleged drug ring, Mateo B. Sardoma Jr., and nine others were indicted in February 2012 on 26 charges, including conspiracy to distribute about 300 grams of methamphetamine, multiple counts of firearm possession and criminal enterprise.
According to federal prosecutors, the 10-person drug ring smuggled and sold methamphetamine, or ice, on Guam, including drugs that were smuggled to the island in snow globes.
The previously convicted Sardoma allegedly ran the operation from his Dededo home.
Seven of the defendants pleaded guilty, with the possibility of a lighter sentence if they cooperate with prosecutors.
The trial for Sardoma and co-defendants Maria C. Edrosa and Rudy Sablan will start some time this week after a jury is selected.
If convicted, they face the possibility of life in federal prison.
District Court of Guam Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood's courtroom was filled to capacity yesterday with possible jurors.
Prosecutors last November accused Sardoma and Sablan of threatening potential witnesses in the case in an effort to sabotage the trial. Sardoma allegedly sent a threatening letter, and Sablan allegedly asked a drug suspect in a separate case to threaten another witness.
Prosecutors allege that the Sardoma-led organization brought methamphetamine to Guam from the Philippines and California. The drug allegedly was traded for firearms, stolen items and cash. The indictment also alleges that nearly $100,000 was mailed to California to purchase the drug and Sardoma traveled to the Philippines to buy drugs to sell here.
According to prosecutors, if the cash was found, group members would claim to have received it from legal employment or from gambling or cockfighting wins.
The group allegedly used force, harassment and firearms to maintain control of the ice trade, according to court documents.
Sardoma and Sablan also are accused in the Superior Court of Guam with kidnapping and torturing a handyman they suspected of stealing drugs from them in October 2011.
Prosecutors allege the drug ring bought expensive surveillance equipment to monitor their homes for police and others.
Of the 21 counts of possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, 18 involve Sablan, who allegedly had a number of firearms in his possession, including pistols, revolvers and automatic rifles.
The witness list for the trial has more than 80 people and includes inmates at the Department of Corrections detention facility, including known drug users.
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