Operation Chronic: Part 2 of the Guam Police Corruption investigative series

Some of the police officers paid by your tax dollars and endowed with your trust to take drug traffickers off our streets allegedly have been long involved with some dealers to conceal their drug trade, allow meth to enter the island, take down their competitors, and in exchange for political protection— attack political opponents. 

John “Boom” Mantanona

These are allegations made by federal agents in a recently-unsealed federal search warrant issued in 2018 for the cell phone belonging to indicted-former cop John “Boom” Mantanona. These allegations also are contained in several other recently-unsealed search warrants, and in testimony by a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent in open court.

The federal documents come from several different criminal cases dating back to 2015, merging into a federal Grand Jury in Honolulu in 2018, and continuing today in what is believed to be the largest investigation into police and public corruption in Guam history. It is called “Operation Chronic” by the federal government, and it appears to be a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, action— the same statute the Feds used to bring down the New York mafia family in the 1980s.

According to these documents, the FBI has the cooperation of several of these now-convicted and imprisoned drug dealers against the cops. The U.S. Attorney’s office also has the forensic evidence linking the corruption conspiracy between the drug dealers and the police officers.

We previously reported to you about the connection among three federally-convicted drug traffickers – Vincent “Ben” Rios, Eric Aponik, and Audrey “Redd” Wolford to former cop and federal task agent member John “Boom” Mantanona.

We previously reported to you Mr. Mantanona’s connection to former Lt. Governor Ray Tenorio, and his meetings with Mr. Tenorio at Adelup during the time of the drug conspiracy. This was the same period Mr. Tenorio, along with former police chief JI Cruz constructed and used the Mandana Drug Task Force to attack enemies of Mr. Tenorio’s 2018 gubernatorial campaign.

We previously reported to you Mr. Mantanona’s arrest, indictment, ongoing criminal case, and repeated continuances for three years now. The rest of the media has only reported to you that his arrest was based on witness tampering allegations. But, that was simply the icing on the corruption cake. The majority of the case is about drug trafficking, money laundering, and the use of dirty cops and politicians to conceal the crimes from good cops.

According to a federal search warrant of Boom Mantanona’s phone in case MJ-17-00143 in 2017 and recently unsealed, an FBI agent reviewed Boom’s call logs and noted the most call activity was with Redd Wolford and the phone number (671) 482-3274. The number, according to the FBI agent, belongs to Kenneth Mantanona.

“I further know that Kenneth Mantanona is a Guam Police Department Captain, and is the Division Chief for the Criminal Investigation Division of the Guam Police Department,” one of the documents states. “This position also includes the oversight of the Mandana Drug Task Force. Guam Police Department’s CID is responsible for a majority of the criminal investigations for the department.”

Spread throughout these documents are the transcripts of phone messages between Boom Mantanona and Redd Wolford. Among the proof of the conspiracy, are messages indicating the money Ms. Wolford and Ben Rios were paying Boom Mantanona was for the retired cop’s use of other police officers known to him to conceal their trafficking of drugs and the money laundering occurring. 

Even convicted drug trafficker Eric Aponik has or is set to testify to the conspiracy, according to a previously-sealed federal document in Mr. Aponik’s case from 2017. “The defendant is actively cooperating with the Government on an ongoing drug trafficking and a public corruption investigation that involves multiple targets. The defendant will be a material witness in the trial of United States v. John T. Mantanona.”

In one series of messages that follows days of Boom Mantanona demanding Redd Wolford pay him for his services, Boom Mantanona threatens to withdraw the “protection” he was providing to her and her associates if she didn’t make payment soon.

According to one of the search warrant documents, the fruits of investigation of another search warrant into Boom Mantanona’s cell phone reveal extensive text messages between Boom and Ken Mantanona, and the sworn testimony of the FBI agent that he believes Boom Mantanona paid Ken Mantanona for classified police information about drug investigations, witnesses to drug cases, and the activities of drug dealers who were competitors to Wolford, Aponik, and Rios. Several of these competitors were arrested by the Mandana Drug Task Force under Ken Mantanona’s command following the dates of these messages.

“I believe [Boom] Mantanona makes payments to Captain [Ken Mantanona],” the FBI agent states. According to a Christmas 2016 text message from Ken Mantanona to Boom Mantanona, “prim merry Christmas to u and ur family prim am inspecting gift from u and what u owed me pay off coming prim I promised u I would not bother u.”

Ken Mantanona also sent a text message seven days later, on New Year’s Eve: “prim u have 3 an a half hours to pay up please prim and jan 2 2017 u can open new account happy new year to u and ur family.” On January 16, 2017, Ken Mantanona texts his cousin Boom, “You still owe me… hahaha.”

“Based upon my training, experience, I believe Captain [Ken Mantanona] was requesting payment from [Boom] Mantanona on Christmas, New Year’s Eve and on January 16, 2017,” the federal agent stated in the warrant.

“I believe that [Boom] Mantanona requests sensitive law enforcement investigative information from Captain [Ken Mantanona] and some of the information requested by [Boom] Mantanona pertains to drug investigations,” the FBI agent stated in the warrant document. “I believe that Captain [Ken Mantanona] provides law enforcement sensitive information to [Boom] Mantanona. Captain [Ken Mantanona] provides  [Boom] Mantanona the information, in part via text and very likely via phone calls. Additionally, I believe that [Boom] Mantanona makes payments to Captain [Ken Mantanona].

Among the information Ken Mantanona provided to his cousin were the names and addresses of people believed to be of interest to Boom’s alleged drug trafficker clients, including witnesses, and so-called “snitches,” to law enforcement. In another federal document, an FBI agent alleges Boom Mantanona furnished to Redd Wolford the name Juan Ada as a confidential source of information for federal and local drug enforcement agents. Mr. Ada now resides in Saipan and faces local charges in the Superior Court of the CNMI.

Littered throughout the transcripts of the text messages are assertions by Boom Mantanona of his closeness with then-Lt. Governor Ray Tenorio, and his appointment by Ray Tenorio and then-Governor Eddie Calvo as a drug investigator for the government. Mr. Tenorio often spoke of his closeness with his uncle, Boom Mantanona, and regularly called Boom Mantanona on the phone and into his office regarding law enforcement matters, despite Boom Mantanona’s retirement from GPD.

Operation Chronic began the same year Calvo and Tenorio created the Mandana Drug Task Force, which was championed by then-police chief JI Cruz. The task force fell under the command of Ken Mantanona.

Several citizens have complained to GPD about the corruption of that task force since its inception, claiming the planting of evidence by dirty cops, the use of the task force to protect certain drug traffickers and take out their competitors, and to target political enemies of Mr. Tenorio.

Among the arrests the task force made was that of Lt. Governor Joshua Tenorio’s sister, Charissa Tenorio. Ms. Tenorio was arrested prior to the election of her brother, whose running mate Lou Leon Guerrero was challenging Ray Tenorio at the time for governor.

According to Ms. Tenorio, it was Ken Mantanona who ordered her arrest on allegations she assaulted a man at the Micronesia Mall. The charges were dropped after surveillance footage confirmed Ms. Tenorio was not in the vicinity at the time of the alleged assault. The Tenorio gubernatorial campaign used the arrest to attack his opponents, Leon Guerrero and Josh Tenorio.

Ken Mantanona retired from the Guam Police Department three months after the indictment of his first cousin, Boom Mantanona. That is roughly the amount of time needed to process out of the government of Guam for retirement purposes. He went on to campaign unsuccessfully as a republican for mayor of Inarajan, losing to popular democrat mayor Anthony Chargualaf. Ironically, republican former Yona Mayor Jesse Blas was convicted in federal court of his conspiracy with drug traffickers to bring meth into Guam by abusing the power he had as mayor over cluster mail boxes in his village.

Stay tuned for Part 3 of the Operation Chronic series, as this story is far from over. Up next are the allegations made by FBI agents in these recently-unsealed documents of the involvement of a former Mandana Drug Task Force officer who left GPD and was hired by former attorney general Leevin Camacho to be an investigator in the Office of the Attorney General of Guam.

Kandit has reported these activities to the Guam Police Department over the past four years, as these facts had come to light. Our reports were sent to the GPD internal affairs division, which did nothing about the crimes. We were simply told that not enough evidence existed. Well, here it is, GPD. You now have the unsealed averments of federal agents so you can stop making excuses for your dirty brothers and sisters in blue who have sullied their badges into dishonor, broken the law, abused their power of arrest, and have violated the trust of the people of Guam.

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