An 8-person jury trial for a man accused of trafficking methamphetamine, Mr. Aiken Uehara, began yesterday at the Palau Supreme Court, and is scheduled to continue throughout the week.
Mr. Uehara is charged on one count of Trafficking a Controlled Substance as well as Possession of More Than One Gram of a Controlled Substance, and is pleading not guilty to the charges.
The first day of the trial revolved around the events of January 29, 2020, on which day officers of the Narcotics Enforcement Agency (NEA), with the help of a Confidential Informant (CI), carried out a “controlled buy” operation which sought to identify Mr. Uehara as a source of meth trafficking.
According to the testimonies of three NEA officers who participated in the operation, on this day the CI was given $100 in cash and a recording device by two officers at WCTC Hotel on Lebuu Street in order to give to Mr. Uehara, who was under suspicious of selling drugs. Afterwards, the two officers in one vehicle followed the CI, who was driving his own work vehicle, to Mr. Uehara’s residence, and joined a third officer in a separate vehicle, who was waiting across the intersection to Mr. Uehara’s home. The three officers waited near the end of a driveway to the residence as the CI proceeded alone, and returned after around 15 minutes with 0.08 grams of meth. The officers followed the CI back to Lebuu Street, where he surrendered the straw containing the substance and the recording.
The substance later filed-tested positive for methamphetamine, first by the NEA and later by experts in Guam.
In his opening statement, the Defendant’s Attorney, Mr. Johnson Toribiong, cautioned the jury to keep in mind the “chain of custody” in the case, asking, “Where did this substance come from, the defendant . . . or somewhere else?”
Mr. Uehara was first arrested in April 2020, but posted a $50,000 cash bail and was released, until January 2021 when his bail was revoked. This occurred following two car crashes. The first took place in September 2020, when Mr. Uehara crashed a car while driving drunk off of the Compact Road in Ngchesar, and afterwards lied on the stand during his hearing that he was not the driver of the vehicle. The second took place in December 2020, when Mr. Uehara’s car crashed in front of the MOE intersection, and Mr. Uehara and another individual were spotted on CCTV footage fleeing the scene. The abandoned vehicle was found to contain 13.97 grams of meth.
Acting as Prosecuting Attorney is Ms. Rebecca Sullivan of the Attorney General’s Office. Presiding over the trial is Justice Kathleen Salii.
This trial follows the conviction of Mr. Silverio Rengulbai, who was found guilty on two counts of trafficking meth and two counts of possession earlier this month. It is scheduled to be followed by the trial of Mr. Burton Wenty, who is likewise charged with possession of meth and whose trial is set to begin on May 24.

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