Joint federal and local law enforcement teams arrested Thursday seven persons who are allegedly engaged in distributing methamphetamine or “ice” in the CNMI.
The suspects were brought before U.S. District Court for the NMI Magistrate Judge Heather L. Kennedy on Friday for their initial appearance hearing. Kennedy unsealed the cases.
Arrested were Daniel A. Castro, 32; Vicente S. Palacios, 38; Bao Zhong Wang, 46; Hong Wang, 40; Le Xiang Chen, 63; Xing Bo Fang, 46; and Yu Hua Wang, 46.
Sources said that Daniel Castro is a brother of police detective Esteven Castro, who was previously assigned at the Department of Public Safety’s Narcotics Section.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the suspects were arrested after a complaint and indictment were filed against them.
The operation was conducted by agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Department of Public Safety, and the CNMI Customs and Border Protection.
As of the court’s close of business late Friday afternoon, only Hong Wang’s case was available for public viewing. At the time, court employees were still in the process of unsealing the cases of the six other suspects.
In Hong Wang’s case, Drug Enforcement Administration special agent Jacqueline R. Gordon stated in a criminal complaint that a confidential source told DEA agents and Task Force officers on Jan. 11, 2013, that he/she bought about 30 grams of “ice” per month from Wang from September 2010 until November 2010 at $300 per gram.
Gordon said that on March 6, 2013, agents with the DEA Saipan Post of Duty and DPS talked with the confidential source to prepare for a controlled purchase of “ice” from Wang.
At the agents’ instruction, the confidential source placed a recorded call to Wang’s cell phone, during which the suspect agreed to meet at the American Memorial Park for the transaction.
At 1:08pm, agents saw Wang’s Toyota Corolla car arrive at the parking lot of the park.
The confidential source, who was given $2,400 in DEA funds, entered Wang’s car and bought “ice” in 10 small baggies.
Gordon said that on Nov. 15, 2013, the DEA lab confirmed that the substance bought from Wang was methamphetamine.
Saipan Tribune learned that an indictment was filed against Castro, charging him with four counts of distributing “ice” on May 29, 2013, June 20, 2013, Nov. 6, 2013, and Feb. 14, 2014.
An indictment charged Palacios with one count of distributing “ice” on Oct. 11, 2012.