WhatsApp and SMS messages used as evidence in federal drug smuggling trial

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U.S. District Court (PNC News file photo)

In federal court news, the trial involving a conspiracy to smuggle methamphetamine into the island focused on the investigation conducted by US Postal Inspector Richard Tracey.

In April 2018, a package containing methamphetamine was intercepted by the US Postal Inspector and the drugs were replaced with sham and sent on its way to the Barrigada Post Office for delivery.

Authorities identified Daniel Pangelinan, Lovelia Mendoza, Joseph Bo Roman II, and Mark Mayo as conspirators in the drug smuggling operation. The package was recovered by federal authorities on May 10, 2018.

One year later, authorities arrested Mark Mayo.

During an interrogation of Mayo, US Postal Inspector Richard Tracey told Mayo he was going to tell him a story and the picture would become clear.

But in court today, Mayo’s attorney Rawlen Mantanona told a different story using the government’s evidence, specifically focusing on WhatsApp and SMS messages Pangelinan had with Mendoza and Mayo the day the drugs were recovered.

With Postal Inspector Tracey on the stand, Mantanona reviewed messages between Pangelinan and Mendoza recovered from Pangelinan’s cellphone. The communications included talk of being tailed by authorities, instructions about dropping off and picking up the package.

“He can’t be seen with you guys because then they’ll tail him,” stated a message from Mendoza to Pangelinan. 45 seconds later Pangelinan sends a message to Mayo stating “wait.”

Inspector Tracey, however, confirmed that none of the communications between Mendoza and Pangelinan identify Mayo and that messages between Mayo and Pangelinan did not suggest that Mayo knew what the package contained.

Mantanona’s cross-examination of the Postal Inspector was in line with Mayo’s claims that he did not know the contents of the package he was asked to pick up, further downplaying the role he had in the drug smuggling conspiracy as suggested by the government.

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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.