Drug charges dropped against former GEC board member - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Drug charges dropped against former GEC board member

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by Mindy Aguon

Guam - Criminal charges against a former Guam Election Commission board member and legislative staffer were dropped today at the request of the Attorney General's Office. The case was thrown out because law enforcement illegally entered and searched his house and an internal affairs investigation has been launched at Customs and Quarantine.

Christopher Carillo walked out of the superior court this morning a free man.  No longer on house arrest or ordered to report to probation on a regular basis.  Just three months ago Carillo was placed behind bars and held on $200,000 cash bail after officers from the Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency found him in possession of more than 522 grams of marijuana.  Officers also seized a glass pipe, a metal grinder, packaging material, scales, and additional marijuana in his vehicle. Court documents also mentioned that individuals had purchased marijuana from Carillo who admitted to authorities that he smokes "as much as he can, up to half an ounce a week".

But all that doesn't matter because the case has been thrown out.  Several weeks ago the defense filed a motion to suppress all of the evidence and statements made during the raid at Carillo's Tamuning home that he shares with former Democratic Party of Guam executive director Carlo Branch.  While the Attorney General's Office initially objected to the motion to suppress, assistant AG James Collins withdrew the objection and moved to dismiss the case against Carillo with prejudice, meaning they cannot bring criminal charges again.

The defense maintained that Customs officers violated Carillo's rights when they went into his home and seized the package containing a tracking device and Carillo.  A search warrant is required before officers can enter the home and one wasn't obtained until after they'd already done so.

AG Leonardo Rapadas says there was a clear constitutional violation. "Unfortunately it's something we don't want to do but when you look at the whole system of justice, it is something we need to do," he said.

Rapadas met with Customs management on Wednesday to discuss the matter. "They pledged to u that they will work with our office from the very beginning and they have in the past. I don't understand what happened in this case but we have in the past worked with them especially for search warrant cases," he stated.

With prosecutors on call 24 hours a day, Rapadas reminded Customs that law enforcement have access to legal advice anytime they need. The AG says they didn't want to drop the case, but it was clear the law had been violated. Rapadas said, "When we were preparing for the motion to suppress it was after we filed the motion to suppress it came to light as to what happened specifically and again we looked to find if there was any way we could find an exception is there a rule but we couldn't."

Customs director Pedro Leon Guerrero reacted to today's dismissal. "Guam Customs did take one pound of marijuana off the streets. Second thing is we do respect the constitutional rights of all citizens and third thing is the director of Guam Customs I have initiated an internal investigation into this matter. And it would be a little premature for me to comment any further until after the investigation is completed," he said. When asked if the investigation launched today or was the investigation launched when this was raised by the defense attorney several weeks ago when the motion to suppress was filed," Leon Guerrero responded, "This was launched today."

Carillo was terminated from Vice Speaker B.J. Cruz's office following the arrest. When asked if he would re-hire Carillo in light of today's dismissal, Cruz said he has no vacancies.

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