Last week, a Ketchikan jury found a California man not guilty of felony drug charges.
Phong Q. Nguyen was cleared of the charges after several hours of deliberation Friday.
Nguyen was arrested in part of a drug sting in February after he transported approximately 200 grams of methamphetamine from Washington State to Ketchikan via the Alaska Marine Highway. An informant identified Viet Nguyen, the defendant’s brother, as a drug supplier and, working with authorities, made arrangements for a delivery of methamphetamine. The prosecutor says Viet Nguyen sent his brother to make the delivery.
In his closing statement, defense attorney Sam McQuerry argued that Phong Nguyen was not aware he was being used as a drug mule, and that his brother had taken advantage of him.
“He trusted his brother, that’s part of the Vietnamese tradition, that’s part of everybody’s tradition: trust your older brother. He did,” McQuerry said.
District Attorney Stephen West said that the drugs were too valuable for Viet to hide it from his brother.
“This is 7 oz of methamphetamine. He’s selling it to Mr. Kotrc for $17,500. He’s not going to let his brother have it without his brother having any knowledge about it. It’s too expensive an item,” West said.
Joel Kotrc is the informant who arranged the delivery. He also faces felony drug charges.
With Friday’s verdict, the charges against Phong Nguyen were dropped, and Viet Nguyen is scheduled to go to trial in December.