A Bellevue man was found guilty of felony delivery of methamphetamine following a three-day jury trial last week.
Raul Amado-Duarte is now scheduled for sentencing on April 27 and faces a maximum punishment of life in prison for the offense.
In October, Amado-Duarte sold $1,300 of methamphetamine to a confidential informant.
The trial, which began with jury selection on Wednesday and concluded after a three-hour deliberation Friday afternoon, included testimony from the confidential informant, who worked with the Narcotics Enforcement Team, or NET, a multi-agency force made up of law enforcement from the Blaine County Sheriff’s Office, the Sun Valley Police Department, the Ketchum Division of the Sheriff’s Office and the Idaho State Police.
According to the confidential informant’s testimony, he met Amado-Duarte at their place of work, a landscaping company in the valley, on Oct. 4. The informant testified that he spoke with Amado-Duarte throughout the workday and at one point the conversation turned to smoking cigarettes. When asked if he smoked cigarettes, Amado-Duarte responded yes, “and everything that makes you dumb,” the informant told the court. The informant followed up by asking if Amado-Duarte used meth. Amado-Duarte said yes, adding that he could get a large amount of the drug if the informant wanted.
The informant worked with NET member and Blaine County Sheriff’s Detective Kristen Quinton to schedule a controlled buy—in which a confidential informant is wired, given cash to buy drugs and later identifies the suspect he or she made the purchases from—with Amado-Duarte for the following week.
On Oct. 9, Amado-Duarte left his landscaping job early to drive first to Richfield and then to Dietrich to get the two ounces of meth that he would sell later that evening. That timeline was based on a series of text messages between Amado-Duarte and the confidential informant presented as evidence during the trial.
The drug deal was supposed to take place at Amado-Duarte’s residence in Bellevue, Quinton said. But on the way back from Dietrich, Amado-Duarte changed the location to the Chevron gas station on the north end of Bellevue. According to evidence provided during the trial, Amado-Duarte packed the crystal methamphetamine in two Marlboro menthol cigarette packs to hand off to the confidential informant.
However, neither testimony, surveillance nor forensic evidence showed Amado-Duarte ever in physical control of the controlled substance or the cigarette packs he put it in. The only fingerprints on the packs belonged to the confidential informant. And, since the deal took place in a dark area of the gas station, neither Quinton, nor other officers providing surveillance that evening, testified to seeing Amado-Duarte hand the drugs to the confidential informant.
The jury found Amado-Duarte guilty of felony drug trafficking regardless, bolstered by testimony from Quinton and Blaine County Sheriff’s Office Detective Steve Hansen detailing their search of both the confidential informant and his vehicle before and after the controlled buy.
Amado-Duarte’s attorney, Blaine County Chief Public Defender Justin McCarthy, attempted to throw those searches into question, repeatedly asking why a second officer wasn’t in the room with Hansen when the confidential informant was being searched—Quinton was searching the vehicle at the time—and why there were no photographs or video of the confidential informant’s vehicle being searched before and after the buy. Quinton and Hansen each testified that they conducted both searches using a standardized method, which does not include documenting the process with photos or video. Together, their testimony—paired with arguments from prosecutor Matt Fredback—was enough to convince the jury that the confidential informant did not bring the drugs to the deal himself.
Amado-Duarte is subject to a hold from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency and will likely be deported upon serving his sentence.