Search warrant for cellphone records uncovers major drug ring

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(PNC photo)

An informant, phone records, text messages, and video provided federal authorities with evidence to track down the King Pin of a sophisticated drug empire on island.

Guam – The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms may have unveiled the “king pin” and several of his associates within a criminal organization that distributes methamphetamine on the island.

Guns, drugs, cars and money. This is the lifestyle enjoyed by the accused a drug lord and his associates court documents describe. The alleged “king pin” is convicted felon Eric Aponik, who was previously arrested in 2006 for a similar crime.  Documents say back then however, he was just a small time player in the dope dealing game.

Fast forward to 2016 when his wife, Verlyn Aponik, is accused of purchasing and supplying her husband with not one but three firearms: a 9 mm pistol, a 9 mm rifle and an automatic rifle. It was in December that federal authorities made the discovery but according to Verlyn the guns had been disposed of by her husband. While Veryln signed a plea deal with the government, her husband remained under the watchful eye of the ATF.

With the help of an informant, ATF was able to build their case against Aponik and his associates but two people that stood out to investigators in that drug ring were Audrey “REDD” Wolford and Vincent “Ben” Rios.

Investigators say they learned that the three would periodically pool their assets which included money, vehicles, properties and meth to further their illegal campaign.

The link between the three is further identified in court documents, which names Rios as a major trafficker of meth along with Wolford, who was his longstanding girlfriend. That is until “Redd” broke off and established her own drug trafficking network, court documents state.

Throughout the summer of 2016, ATF agents utilized an informant to arrange multiple controlled purchases of meth and guns from the alleged King Pin. Those interactions were documented and used to obtain search warrants on cell phone numbers allegedly belonging to Eric Aponik and Redd.

But it wasn’t until Rios was arrested in November 2016, during a controlled delivery of approximately 18 pounds of ice, that the ATF got a major break in their investigation.

Days after his arrest, a woman called a bank to inquire about a safety deposit box which belonged to Rios. That woman identified herself as his wife and gave a cell phone number and the name Audrey whom investigators allege is Redd. Acting on this information, investigators obtained a search warrant for the safety deposit box. In that box sat $400,000, providing law enforcement with probable cause to further investigate.

Through the use of an informant, phone records, text messages and video, authorities believe they were able to obtain concrete evidence of the drug activities between Redd, Rios, and Aponik, along with individuals wanting to score.

Authorities looked at the content of text messages from the number provided to the bank. One text stated, “but its okay I push this dope on my own.” Another stated, “you know what comes with the game as a dope dealer.”

But that’s not all, the texts also revealed a location where $300,000 in cash and dope were buried, however, the texts further indicate that stash “got dirty.”

It wasn’t long before Redd began dealing from a new cell number, according to court documents and a review of those messages implicated another alleged drug trafficker, Bobat Calitis. One message stated, “My fren gonna call me back cuz he was trying another route but he could swing our way, just that he placed an order.”

That “order” was apparently placed with a drug dealer in Agat.

And as they waited for confirmation, Redd allegedly attempted to procure the drugs elsewhere, with an individual identified as Joven, stating “I spoke with Joven trying to get confirmation on the 2 zips. They asked me how much cash I said 13-thousand just waiting on a final confirmation.”

The “2 zips” refer to Ziploc bags full of methamphetamine, authorities believe.

All of the alleged crimes occurred between the summer of 2016 and May 2017 when the drug ring was shut down by ATF.

None of the alleged conspirators have been charged in District Court but the information detailing the sophisticated drug empire was provided in search warrants executed on their cell phones as well as through informants.

 

SOURCEJolene Toves
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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.