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By Tammy Anderson

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Oct. 18) – Federal authorities have nabbed more than 10 people alleged to have been involved in a drug-smuggling ring that lasted about six months and brought in hundreds of grams of the drug "ice" into Guam from Mexico.

The operation lasted from November of last year to May, when authorities received a tip that a group had been smuggling methamphetamine hydrochloride, commonly known as "ice," from Tijuana, Mexico, to California to Hawaii to Guam, according to documents from the U.S District Court of Guam.

So far, 13 people have been named in the operation, including 11 arrested on Guam. Some have been charged with sneaking in the drugs by hiding it in their body cavities.

Since the early 1990s, the highly addictive drug ice has become prevalent on Guam and has contributed to the rising levels of violent crimes on the island, according to Pacific Daily News files. In 1999, nearly 75 percent of all adult drug-related arrests involved ice, files state.

The first arrest of this latest smuggling operation took place in April, with the most recent arrest taking place in May. The defendants face a wide range of federal charges, from illegal distribution to money laundering.

Between Hawaii and Guam, authorities seized more than 300 grams of "ice" -- close to a pound -- estimated to be worth more than US$110,000 if sold on the streets.

Some of the smugglers have pleaded guilty to hiding the drug in their body cavities while flying on Continental flights from California to Guam to deliver the drug. Others in the ring would then sell the drug and wire money back to California to purchase more drugs from Mexico.

The bust began in April when customs officials in Honolulu arrested Guam resident Douglas Guerrero for having more than 70 grams of suspected methamphetamine hydrochloride on a Continental flight, according to court documents. Guerrero was on his way to Guam.

Others have also pleaded guilty in the past few months, while the rest continue to be charged in superseding indictments.

October 18, 2005

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com

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