MEDIA ADVISORYSeptember 13, 2013FOR A SECOND TIME, JURY CONVICTS DRUG DEALER AFTER LESS THAN 15 MINUTES OF DELIBERATIONS.Media Contact: Curtis T. Hill, Jr. 296-1888***An Elkhart Superior Court 3 jury took less than fifteen (15) minutes on Tuesday Septmber 10, 2013, to return verdicts of guilt convicting Efren Mendoza Vargas, 37, Elkhart, of Dealing in Methamphetamine, as a Class A Felony, and Maintaining a Common Nuisance and Possession of Marijuana, both as Class D Felonies. The convictions resulted after the jury heard evidence from an investigation into Vargas by members of the Elkhart County Interdiction and Covert Enforcement Unit (ICE). The investigation by ICE resulted in the execution of a search warrant at his residence on Pottawatomi Drive, Elkhart, IN. During trial, jurors heard evidence that Vargas was operating a “stash house” in which ICE Officers found approximately $10,000.00, fraudulent identifications, one (1) pound of marijuana and over one (1) pound of methamphetamine. The street value of the methamphetamine alone was in excess of $60,000.00. During trial, Vargas called his co-defendant, Baldemar Verduzco, to the stand. Verduczco, who plead guilty to Dealing in Methamphetamine as a Class A Felony on September of 2011 and is serving a thirty-five (35) year sentence himself for his involvement in the “stash house,” told jurors that all of the money and drugs in Vargas’ home were his. However, Verduczco’s testimony was discounted after the State, through DPA Peter Britton, presented evidence that Vargas was involved in four (4) prior drug deals in the weeks leading up to the execution of the search warrant. This was Vargas’ second trial for the same acts. In November of 2011, another Elkhart County jury convicted Vargas of the same charges; however, those convictions were overturned by the Indiana Court of Appeals after finding that Vargas’ confession, in which he admitted responsibility for importing hundreds of thousands of dollars into the Elkhart County community over the course of several months, was ruled inadmissible. DPA Britton presented the state’s case on the new trial without the confession.As a result of his conviction, Judge Biddlecome scheduled Vargas’ sentencing hearing for October 3, 2013, at 9:00 a.m. in the Elkhart County Security Center. Vargas faces up to (fifty-six) 56 years in prison and is currently being held without bond after the court revoked Vargas’ $300,000.00 bond as a result of the convictions. ***Under Indiana law, all persons arrested for a criminal offense are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.