Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho dismissed yesterday all charges against two men accused of trafficking of methamphetamine or “ice” after the prosecution admitted on the third day of the jury trial that there was a mistake as the evidence may have been substituted.
Camacho urged Attorney General Joey P. San Nicolas and Department of Public Safety Commissioner James C. Deleon Guerrero to look into this matter.
Camacho granted defense counsels Bruce Berline’s and assistant public defender Matthew Meyer’s motion to acquit their clients, Le Xiang Chen and Yuhua Wang.
The judge dismissed the charges of trafficking of a controlled substance and conspiracy to commit trafficking of controlled substance against Chen and Wang.
Camacho said that without the illegal controlled substance, it is impossible to find the two guilty of the charges.
Camacho said that after three days of trial, it has been discovered that no one knows what happened to the “ice” that was seized in 2010.
The trial has already heard testimonies from six witnesses: five law enforcement officers and one confidential informant.
“The ‘ice’ was stored in a locked safe at DPS. It appears that the package in which the ‘ice’ was kept was tampered; the original package may have been substituted with fake evidence,” the judge said.
Camacho lamented the amount of wasted time and resources of the Judiciary, DPS, Office of the Attorney General, defense attorneys, and the jurors.
Camacho said the OAG and DPS owe these jurors, the court, and the CNMI community an apology.
Assistant attorneys general Barbara Cepeda and Chemere McField apologized to the jurors and the court.
Cepeda said their job is to find justice. She said when they found it was not right to proceed with the trial, they wanted to do the right thing.
Cepeda said because of error, the evidence might be tampered.
The prosecutors informed the court about the error after the government rested its case. Defense counsels then moved for judgment of acquittal. The prosecutors did not oppose the motion.
Police said the sting operation conducted by the Drug Enforcement Task Force using a confidential informant who purchased $200 worth of “ice” on Feb. 27, 2010, led to the arrest and filing of charges against Wang and Chen.