Awa: I was targeted by corrupt cops because I refused to go along with illegal activities

Normally, when the federal court unseals documents in a criminal case – such as the warrant Homeland Security Investigations got to search Brian Awa’s cell phone on suspicion of drug trafficking – it is an indication federal law enforcement no longer needs to keep secret its investigation into a person. What almost always follows is a criminal indictment in federal court.

Following the November 16, 2023 unsealing of three warrants that targeted Mr. Awa, no criminal court cases against him in the U.S. District Court of Guam have been made public. And that’s because Mr. Awa has not been indicted, according to him in an exclusive interview with Kandit.

“There’s no court case against me,” Mr. Awa confirmed, “and no federal agent has even tried to interview me about this.”

And while federal agents have been investigating the Guam Police Department officer since late 2019, Mr. Awa said this story goes back to 2016, when Adelup – he says – directed GPD’s top brass to get rid of Awa.

“First of all, I’m not a drug user and I’m not a drug dealer,” Mr. Awa said. “All of this is a culmination of events that started back during the Mandana days when I said no to all of the bad things happening then.”

Mr. Awa said he originally was recruited to be part of the Mandana Drug Task Force when it was created by Ray Tenorio who then was lieutenant governor and had oversight of GPD. “They needed me because I was the K-9 handler of a drug-detection dog,” he said.

At first, he said, the operations were by the book, until they weren’t. Mr. Awa provided detail to Kandit about the crimes he witnessed that other police officers committed. He provided the detail on embargo, which means Kandit has agreed not to publish those details until a later date, which may be after his upcoming interview with GPD’s internal affairs division.

Mr. Awa said he reported the illegal activities to Ken Mantanona, who was the division chief over the Mandana Drug Task Force. “I told him I wasn’t going to go along with these things,” he said. That’s when he was paid a visit by Ken Mantanona’s cousin, retired police officer John “Boom” Mantanona.

“Boom threatened me,” Mr. Awa said. “He was a powerful guy.”

Boom Mantanona in 2019 was indicted in a massive police corruption and witness tampering case, which was quickly sealed up and has been continued every three months since. It is believed he pleaded out in the case, and he is helping the federal government against other criminal targets.

Ken Mantanona did not respond to Kandit’s request for comment.

According to court documents in the federal cases against convicted drug traffickers Audrey “Redd” Wolford and Eric Aponik, both Boom and Ken Mantanona were involved in a conspiracy with drug traffickers to use the Mandana Drug Task Force against their competition. Ken Mantanona no longer is with GPD.

Then, on October 31, 2016, Mr. Awa was called from his shift to his supervisor’s office, where he was informed he was under investigation on allegations he was stealing drugs from drug dealers and using drugs. A November 1, 2016 letter from then-police chief Joseph “JI” Cruz to Mr. Awa informed him of his placement on administrative leave pending an internal affairs investigation into the matter.

A separate document – Reasonable Suspicion / Cause Determination Checklist – stated “Intelligence information was received alleging that Officer Awa was possibly stealing and using narcotics.” The checklist showed no abnormal behavior was observed, that Awa was not known to have a “history of documented performance problems,” and that he showed no physical signs of drug abuse.

Mr. Awa told Kandit he does not know why false information was alleged against him, but suspected he was being punished for trying to report the illegal activities of other police officers connected to the Mandana Drug Task Force.

“The allegations crushed me emotionally,” Mr. Awa recalled of the October 31, 2016 meeting with his supervisor.

Documents Mr. Awa provided show he was drug tested and passed his drug test the same day his administrative leave began. He was interviewed by internal affairs officers on December 8 that year. He said he was polygraphed about drug use and trafficking and passed the polygraph. On December 20, 2016, Mr. Cruz wrote to Mr. Awa, “I am pleased to inform you that the Internal Affairs investigation into the incident failed to substantiate the report made regarding you.” He was issued a letter of clearance.

By then, however, the incident had taken its toll on Mr. Awa’s emotional health, he said. He began to use his sick leave, and in 2017 he was diagnosed with work-related Chronic Post Traumatic Stress Disorder at American Medical Center. He received the same diagnosis from a doctor at Guam Medical Care, and also received treatment at Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center.

“He has been continually following up to present,” Dr. Geoffrey Gage wrote to the GPD on May 18, 2020. “In my medical opinion as his Primary Care Physician, his established mental health condition is probably chronic in nature for which he will need continuing mental health management. He is also seeing the possibility of disability for this condition.”

“It sounds crazy, but I was scared to go to work,” Mr. Awa said. “That place is a dangerous place when they’re attacking you and I still don’t even know why they were attacking me except that I was speaking up.”

Medical documents Mr. Awa provided to Kandit from AMC confirm his continuous care under doctors and social workers for Chronic PTSD.

Following the allegations against him, he had a meeting with the police chief, Mr. Cruz, who he said confided in him that the direction to get rid of Awa came from Adelup via Jadeen Tuncap. Ms. Tuncap at the time was then-lieutenant governor Ray Tenorio’s special assistant assigned to oversee GPD.

Neither Mr. Cruz nor Ms. Tuncap responded to Kandit’s request for comment.

Asked why the governor’s office would campaign against him, Mr. Awa said he could only surmise it had something to do with Ken Mantanona.

Federal court documents in the Wolford case connect both Ken and Boom Mantanona to Ray Tenorio.

Among Mr. Cruz’s alleged admissions to Mr. Awa were that Ms. Tuncap had ordered Cruz not to promote Awa and not to sign off on his receipt of sick leave.

“It’s like they were just trying to squeeze me out,” Mr. Awa told Kandit.

The police officer tried to fight the matter, bringing his medical records to both the Department of Administration and later to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, according to records he provided to Kandit.

A February 6, 2020 memorandum from director of administration Edward Birn to current police chief Stephen Ignacio stated “It would be appropriate for the Guam Police Department to complete the Worker’s Compensation Commission Form GWA-101A/B and refer to Mr. Awa to the Guam Memorial Hospital Authority. Should the WCC determine Mr. Awa’s condition is a work related injury, Mr. Awa should be placed under Administrative Leave.”

GPD, however, did not take up Mr. Birn’s suggestion or Mr. Awa’s request and since then, Mr. Awa has been on leave without pay status.

He pays his portion of his health insurance premium as a government of Guam employee in order to continue his treatment for his PTSD diagnosis, and another medical issue related to his leg, he said.

When Kandit first reached Mr. Awa we asked to speak with his attorney in order to confirm certain information. He informed us he did not have one, and did not think he needed one this entire time because the allegations against him “are bogus.”

In the recently-unsealed federal warrant application to search his phone records, the federal agent said two sources of information provided the intelligence needed to establish probable cause that Mr. Awa was engaged in drug trafficking. Those two informants were Brian Chan and Jovan Bradbury, both of whom are convicted felons for drug crimes.

Mr. Awa said he does not know Mr. Chan at all and suspects Mr. Chan used Awa’s name in order to satisfy his federal agent handler that he was cooperating.

Mr. Awa said he knew Mr. Bradbury because he arrested him “three or four times” on drug charges. He also knew Mr. Bradbury through the local cockfighting circuit. Awa said he suspects Bradbury found himself in a bind after being threatened with deportation and thought perhaps Bradbury “had it out” for him.

Kandit will publish a separate story that will go further into information surrounding text messages between Mr. Bradbury and a phone number registered to Mr. Awa.


  • I’ve been through alot with the guam police department,and all there lying and cover ups.i have dealt with some of the mandana task force with drug dealers and taking there drugs.when the time I actually got clean I spoke out about some of the dealings I have did with mamdana task force and all they did was turn the tables and make it look like I was lying about everything.straight up I was never lying and everything I spoke about was truth.

  • Imelda Tanapino

      12/15/2023 at 4:03 PM

    Real cops don’t become criminals, but criminals often become cops (and GovGuam politicians).

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