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Gamboa case goes to jury, no verdict yet

A federal jury Wednesday began deliberating the fate of Michael Gerald Gamboa, a Fargo man charged in the state's largest methamphetamine trafficking case.


A federal jury Wednesday began deliberating the fate of Michael Gerald Gamboa, a Fargo man charged in the state's largest methamphetamine trafficking case.

Gamboa, 27, is accused in Fargo's U.S. District Court of directing the sale of hundreds of pounds of meth from his auto detailing shop in south Fargo.

Prosecutors and Gamboa's defense attorney offered their closing statements before the jury began deliberating about 1 p.m.

The jury left the downtown courthouse four hours later without reaching a verdict. It is expected to resume deliberations at 9 a.m. today.

Gamboa, a twice-convicted drug dealer, is accused of directing a violent ring of drug pushers who sold hundreds of pounds of meth in Fargo-Moorhead, Grand Forks and Bismarck between early 1999 and September 2002.


He is charged with eight crimes, including conspiracy to possess and distribute meth, carrying firearms during drug trafficking and being a felon in possession of firearms.

An indictment charges Gamboa, two of his brothers -- Edward and Rolando -- and three other men with drug trafficking.

If convicted, Gamboa could be sentenced to life in prison.

His attorney, James Hovey of Grand Forks, offered the jury a different version of his client's drug involvement.

Gamboa had been released from prison and was getting his life in order when law enforcement officials recruited him to be a drug informant, Hovey told the jury during closing arguments Wednesday.

Law enforcement agents threw his client back into a dangerous underworld from which Gamboa could not escape, Hovey said.

"He was trapped and could not get out," Hovey said. "It was nothing but survival after that. "

Gamboa didn't help police build cases against other drug dealers, prosecutors said.


Instead, "he tried to create his own drug empire and ran it like a tyrant," Assistant U.S. Attorney Norm Anderson told the jury.

Gamboa crushed a drug dealer's hand with a shovel, forced people to strip to check them for listening devices, had his "enforcers" beat drug dealers and stuck guns in their faces, Assistant U.S. Attorney Keith Reisenauer said.

"Does that sound like someone who's working with law enforcement, ladies and gentlemen?" Reisenauer said. "It does not.

"Michael Gamboa did not use any public authority when he acquired this meth," Reisenauer continued. "He was not working for law enforcement."

Gamboa signed a confidential informant agreement with police in February 1999 at the request of his brother, Robert, who was hoping to get a reduced prison sentence for dealing meth, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Norman Anderson.

Michael Gamboa volunteered to become an informant but never followed through, Anderson said.

Gamboa's status as an informant was deactivated about two months after he signed the agreement, long before police raided his auto shop and seized more than a pound of meth and nine firearms, Anderson said.

Fargo police had the shop under surveillance for weeks before they raided it May 29, arresting Michael and brother Edward Gamboa, court records said.


Three other men charged in the case -- Cassidy Kyle Stich, James Nicolas Borkowski and Delwin Jo White Lightning -- pleaded guilty to drug trafficking and weapons charges Dec. 30. They testified against Michael Gamboa.

Michael Gamboa's brothers, Rolando and Edward, are set to stand trial Jan. 21.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Jeff Zent at (701) 241-5526

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