Federal judge explains decision to dismiss charges in drug smuggling case

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Chief Federal Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood has entered a written order that enforces her Jan. 29 oral ruling dismissing without prejudice the case against a couple accused of attempting to smuggle $2-million worth of methamphetamine from California to the island.

Guam – In granting the prosecution’s motion, Tydingco-Gatewood agreed with the government’s premise that it is more likely to get a fair trial in California.

“Particularly in light of the evidence of jury tampering in the second trial, the government reasonably believes that it will more likely receive a fair trial in California than in Guam,” the decision reads.

The decision came down on the heels of a second mistrial in the case involving Juanita Moser and Raymond Martinez.

During the second trial, the defense raised the allegations about jury tampering.

“In the event this case is returned to Guam, the court will consider sequestering the jury because of the evidence of jury tampering,” Tydingco-Gatewood said.

She noted that at the trial, the court gave a very specific instruction, making it clear to the jurors that they were “not to speak to anyone on any subject connected with this trial.”

However, she said, “it appears that this instruction was not followed.”

“Federal courts stand as the stalwart beacons of fairness and justice. The specter of jury tampering undermines public confidence in that role,” the decision reads. “In light of the court’s concern about the events surrounding the second trial, a separate miscellaneous case will be opened in order to address the issue of the court’s jury instructions.”

Moser and Martinez were accused of attempting to smuggle 8 lbs of methamphetamine from California to Guam. The drugs were concealed in a 5-gallon Morton salt bucket. However, before they could ship the drugs, the couple was pulled over in California with the container in the vehicle.

Because the case has already gone before a jury twice, each time ending in a mistrial, the government moved to dismiss the charges without prejudice.

In granting the government’s motion, Tydingco-Gatewood noted that the couple was indicted for the charges in California, where they now await trial.

The defendants have also filed a motion to dismiss the charges with prejudice, which would have barred another prosecution.

 Tydingco-Gatewood denied the motion, pointing out a lack of proof that the U.S. government acted in bad faith.

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Jolene Toves
Jolene joined the PNC team in 2017, as a producer, co-anchor and investigative reporter covering law enforcement, courts and crimes. Notable coverage includes the Ehlert case, the Mark Torre Jr. trial, the Allan Agababa trial, exclusive pieces on the Life of a Drug Dealer/Addict, and Life behind bars...the story of Honofre Chargualaf and Kevin Cruz. In 2019, she was promoted to Assistant News Director and Lead Anchor. From 2015 to 2017 she served as Public Relations and Promotions Manager, for the Hotel Nikko Guam handling local radio and advertorial promotions, as well as produced and directed tv commercials for the hotel. Prior to this she worked with KUAM for three years as a reporter and segment host. She began her journalism career in 2012, working with Glimpses of Guam contributing to the Guam Business Magazine, R&R magazine, MDM magazine and the Marianas Business Journal.