Alleged leader of group that smuggled $850K worth of ‘ice’ signs plea deal


One of the three suspects in the shipment of 4.9 lbs of methamphetamine or “ice” worth $850,000 has signed a plea agreement with the U.S. government.

Assistant U.S. attorney Garth R. Backe informed the U.S. District Court for the NMI yesterday that the U.S. government and defendant Xi Huang have signed a plea agreement.

The plea deal was filed in court under seal yesterday.

Backe requested the court to set the case for a change of plea hearing for today, Wednesday, at 1:30pm.

The court granted the U.S. government’s request for change of plea hearing.

An indictment charged Huang, Shicheng Cai, and Zhaopeng Chen with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine. The indictment includes a criminal forfeiture allegation.

According to the indictment, the three defendants, all Chinese nationals, conspired between Nov. 30 and Dec. 4, 2015, to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine.

Last Dec. 10, U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona granted the U.S. government’s motion to detain the defendants pending trial after determining that they are a flight risk.

Manglona said the evidence suggests that Huang was the leader of the group.

A routine Customs inspection at the Port of Saipan of a 40-foot container from Guangzhou, China, resulted in the discovery of the 4.9 lbs of “ice” hidden in three plastic bags in one of the nine 5-gallon paint containers last Dec. 2.

Joint federal and local enforcers investigated the discovery of the “ice” that led to the arrest of Huang, Cai, and Chen.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at

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