Prosecutor: Many involved in largest Guam meth case

HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — Assistant U.S. Attorney Rosetta San Nicolas acknowledged in federal court that “there are many other defendants involved” in what she described as the largest ever seizure of crystal meth on Guam.

San Nicolas was responding to a question from District Court Chief Judge Francis Tydingco-Gatewood. Her answer prompted a side-bar conference that resulted in a delay in sentencing for one of the defendants in the case, 24-year-old Sue Ann Baker.

Baker was arrested in November of last year along with Vincent Raymond Rios after the couple picked up two mail packages that contained 18.7 pounds of crystal meth. Authorities have said it had a maximum street value of $4.7 million. Baker has admitted to being a long-time drug user and she has entered a plea of guilty to a charge of “illegal use of a communication facility by knowingly using the mail to distribute methamphetamine hydrochloride.”

“In the interest of fairness and completeness” ahead of final sentencing, Tydingco-Gatewood instructed federal prosecutors to “turn over all of the (unsealed) discovery” in related cases to Baker’s defense attorney, Curtis Van de Veld.

The delay was called after the prosecutor had nearly finished summarizing her argument for sentencing Baker as a “minor participant” in the conspiracy.

Van de Veld is seeking to have his client characterized as a “minimal participant,” which could result in a less severe sentence. However, he won’t make that argument until January, after he has reviewed documents from the prosecution.

“This appears to be a lot bigger than just a two-person enterprise,” said Tydingco-Gatewood. She said if only two were involved, the sentence for Baker might be harsher, but if it was a bigger enterprise, “I’d look at it in a different light.”

Baker faces up to four years in prison, but Van De Veld told the Guam Daily Post that could be substantially reduced if his client is found to be only a “minimal participant.”

During her presentation, San Nicolas argued that Baker qualified as a more serious “minor participant” because she understood the scope and structure of the criminal activity, and she participated in planning it, and she benefited from it.

San Nicolas described Baker as Rios’ girlfriend and said she lived with Rios at two residences on Guam. She said Rios had $800,000 on him when Baker first met him and that she received $10,000 from Rios to pay for her plane tickets from Guam to Las Vegas, and from there they went onto Washington state where the meth was purchased. San Nicolas also said Baker was involved in the mailing because her “fingerprints were found inside” the packages that were shipped to a mailbox at “Postland” in Barrigada. Baker left her phone number at “Postland,” San Nicolas said when she first went to pick up the packages, but they hadn’t arrived. They were then arrested when they went to collect the packages the second time.

Baker has been released from custody on condition that she refrain from using illegal drugs, undergo periodic testing to prove that, and she must attend addiction counseling at the Oasis Empowerment Center. At the conclusion of the hearing, Tydingco-Gatewood warned Baker, “If you mess up, you’re going back in.”

Baker and Rios are now both scheduled to be sentenced at 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 23.

Source: Marianas Variety :

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