HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — James Rumbaua Damaso was found guilty of having 139.1 grams of methamphetamine on him when federal agents pulled him over back in 2019.
It took a jury less than two hours to return with a unanimous verdict in the District Court of Guam on Tuesday.
He has been convicted of possession of 50 or more grams of methamphetamine hydrochloride with intent to distribute.
The prosecution seeks a minimum of 15 years in prison.
Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 21, 2022 before Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood.
Damaso was accused of working with Jeffrey Baldonado to smuggle drugs into Guam through the mail.
Baldonado has since taken a plea deal with the federal government, admitting to attempted possession of methamphetamine hydrochloride with intent to distribute.
In 2019, investigators intercepted a package containing 1,800 grams of meth that was addressed to Baldonado in Latte Heights, Mangilao. The drugs were replaced with sham and agents inserted a GPS tracking device inside, court documents state.
Authorities tracked the package to a residence in Dededo.
Baldonado told the feds that Damaso told him to “take it and get rid of it” after being given one of the four bags of sham, document state.
During closing arguments, Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Sambataro told the jury why Damaso should be found guilty of the crime.
“124.1 net grams. At $100 to $250 per gram is $12,400 to $31,000. If this is broken down and sold in a tenth of gram pieces into 50 plates that’s over $60,000. That’s a lot of green. That’s a lot of money. The defendant was caught green handed, and not just because of the green clue spray on his hand. $31,418 in his car in denominations consistent with being drug proceeds,” said Sambataro. “You heard when the agent went to put the patdown that the defendant put both of his hands in his pockets. They tell him to take his hands out of his pockets. He takes his right hand out but kept his left hand in his left pocket because he knew what he had in there. He knew that he was stopped by federal agents and he’s got his meth in his left pocket.”
That’s when authorities found 139.1 grams of meth.
“In the course of tracking that package with sham, they found some real dope. They found the defendant with methamphetamine,” she said. “Mr. Damaso picked Mr. Baldonado to do his dirty work, to take on most of the risk.”
Defense attorney William Gavras told the jury during closing argument that, “This was a poor investigation.”
He dissected the testimony and evidence the government presented during trial, and contends his client was set up.
“Mr. Baldonado wants to save himself,” said Gavras. “They staged a picture of Mr. Damaso in front of this meth. You don’t stage pictures of people in front of drugs. That’s not right. If they had searched him like they said and the drugs come flying out and it ends up on the ground as you are searching him then take a picture of that.”
Damaso was also convicted on separate federal drug charges in 2009, Post files state.