Businessman found guilty of ‘ice’ possession

After less than three hours of deliberations, federal jurors reached Friday a unanimous guilty verdict against Yang Zou, a businessman accused of possessing five grams or more of methamphetamine or “ice.”

The 12 jurors found Zou guilty of one count of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute at least 5 grams on April 15, 2016.

The offense carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

Zou, a Chinese national, was calm when a court staff read the verdict at 2:50pm. He was seen smiling to some people as U.S. Marshals led him out. He will be sentenced on July 29.

After the hearing, defense counsel Colin Thompson said the trial went quickly and the jurors worked hard and gave fair considerations. Thompson said they are, however, disappointed with the verdict.

Thompson said he will be meeting with Zou to discuss his post trial rights.

Assistant U.S. attorney Garth Backe, counsel for the U.S. government, refused to comment, saying they will issue a press release.

Saipan Tribune learned that Zou has a taxi and tour businesses on Saipan.

Backe called a total of seven witnesses, including Yang Kang Chen, a Chinese national who already pleaded guilty to distribution of a controlled substance.

The court was able to empanel 13 jurors, including an alternate, on Wednesday. After completing calling witnesses on Thursday afternoon, the prosecution rested its case. Thompson did not call any witness.

The jurors started deliberating on Friday morning.

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Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com

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  • pafao

    A businessman found guilty…for crying out loud, is that what he does as a business smuggling and selling METH?

  • Curious G.

    I’m sure his taxi/tour business is completely legit? These freaking people come here set up business fronts and break every law on the books. Wonder if he’ll be smiling on the way into prison, unless he’s smiling now because he’s already paid someone off or cut himself a sweet deal. Give him the 20 years and make him an example for the rest.

  • Curious G.

    Smiling on the way out? Has he already made a ‘Deal? Facing 20 years is nothing to be smiling about unless he already knows something we will never know. Oh yeah, I’m sure his taxi/tour business is completely above board (WHAT!).

  • SaipanStorm

    Questions? As a “business man” did he pay his own legal bills? Has he ever paid taxes? Will he pay for his own airfare home after prison time (if any) served?

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