Jury returns guilty verdicts in major drug trafficking case - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Jury returns guilty verdicts in major drug trafficking case

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by Mindy Aguon

Guam - After five months of listening to witness testimonies and seeing evidence presented in the case, a jury of two men and ten women returned a verdict in one of the island's largest drug trafficking cases. But the jury's job isn't over just yet.

It took a federal jury less than two-and-a-half days to reach a verdict in one of the government's largest drug trafficking cases.  Mateo Sardoma, Jr. was described by the government as the drug kingpin while co-defendant Rudy Sablan was said to be the enforcer.

Sardoma's girlfriend Maria Edrosa was also charged with being involved in the drug trafficking conspiracy. The government spent weeks calling dozens of witnesses laying out their case that various individuals worked at Sardoma's direction to mail packages of the drug Ice from the U.S. mainland while others traveled to the Philippines to purchase and transport the drugs back to Guam. It's alleged that Sardoma was responsible for bringing in more than 300 grams of Ice and received hundreds of thousands of dollars in return.

All three defendants stood with their attorneys as the verdicts were read aloud in a packed courtroom.   The jury returned guilty verdicts against Sardoma for continuing criminal enterprise, conspiracy to distribute at least 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, using, carrying, possession a firearm during a drug trafficking offense, and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person.  He was found not guilty on one count of the latter charge.

Sablan was also convicted of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine hydrochloride of at least 5 grams but less than 50 grams, using and carrying a firearm during drug trafficking, and numerous counts of possession of a firearm by a prohibited person.  The jury, however, did find him not guilty on ten of those latter counts as well as possession of ammunition by a prohibited person.

Edrosa meanwhile was convicted of conspiracy to distribute at least 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, aiding and abetting possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, disposal of a firearm to a felony and disposal of a firearm to unlawful drug user.

Jurors were polled and confirmed the unanimous verdicts.  But despite sitting on this case for the last five months, the jurors jobs are far from finished.  In fact the parties will come back to court on Thursday to present closing arguments on two forfeiture allegations against Sardoma and Edrosa.  According to the indictment, federal authorities argue that three vehicles, a motorcycle, a television and $7,000 in cash were proceeds or derived from the illegal activity. 

Jurors were not made aware of the forfeiture until after the verdict was read today.  The defense was given additional time to prepare and closing arguments on the forfeiture phase is set for Thursday at nine o'clock.  Attorneys walked out of the courthouse this afternoon but were prohibited from speaking to the media. 

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