Drug investigation could help solve '98 murder
by Mindy Aguon
Guam - A drug trafficking operation out of an auto body shop came to a screeching halt when police realized individuals were going there to get their next fix - instead of getting their cars fixed. The case, which began several months ago, has now resulted in the federal government stepping in and could shed some light on a homicide.
An auto body shop, drugs, large quantities of cash, and a murder investigation - all key elements in local and federal investigations. A controlled buy of a half-gram of crystal methamphetamine back on New Year's Eve has put police hot on the trail of drug distribution on the island, and possibly a lead into a more than decade-old murder.
KUAM News has learned that the federal government is looking to seize $137,687 in cash that was surrendered to police by Kenrick Gajo. According to court documents, on January 1, a Guam Police Department informant purchased a half-gram of the drug ice from Gajo at the Gajo and Sons Auto Body Shop in Barrigada. On January 13, another informant bought a half-gram of crystal meth from Gajo for $450 cash.
The money used in the controlled buys came from GPD narcotics funds.
Police attempted to execute a search warrant at the body shop a day later, but after speaking with his attorney, Gajo agreed to cooperate with authorities. A plea agreement was signed wherein Gajo admitted that he had more than $150,000 cash at the body shop. He told police that money came from his distribution and sale of controlled substances.
According to an affidavit filed with the District Court by FBI Special Agent Frank Runles, Gajo provided police with two backpacks that had been hidden inside a stack of tires. According to the plea agreement, the government - through Assistant Attorney General Phil Tydingco - agreed that $30,000 of the cash would go directly to pay Gajo's attorney, Curtis Van De Veld, while the rest was taken into police custody and deposited with the Department of Administration.
Gajo agreed to cooperate with authorities and be charged with two counts of possession with the intent to deliver a controlled substance, which comes with a maximum sentence of 15 years behind bars.
But the plea agreement states that Gajo won't spend a single day in jail - if he fully cooperates and assists the government with the investigation of his drug sources and cohorts, as well as provide information he told police he had about a 1998 murder of a woman that occurred near Route 15. The Attorney General's Office agreed that in exchange for Gajo's cooperation, he would receive immunity for any drug or drug-related criminal offense, but no immunity of any sort for a homicide case.
The federal government is now asking the District Court to all the cash that Gajo gave to authorities to be forfeited and turned over to the U.S. Marshals Service's Seized Asset Fund.
KUAM News attempted to get comment from the Guam Police Department's Criminal Investigation Division on what 1998 murder Gajo had information on and whether he's provided cooperation to authorities, but we were told they could not comment because the matter is still under investigation.