1 of 3 involved in Papago meth den pleads guilty


One of three defendants busted back in May for allegedly trying to smuggle methamphetamine through the U.S. Postal Service and running a meth den in Papago has pleaded guilty to the charges filed against her in the U.S. District Court for the NMI.

Li Hongjie, one of the three defendants who tried to smuggle meth or “ice” through the U.S. Post Office, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess methamphetamine with the intent to distribute.

District court Chief Judge Ramona Manglona accepted Li’s guilty plea and set her sentencing for Jan. 13, 2023, at 9am before remanding her back to custody.

The court has since vacated all court proceedings for Li.

According to Saipan Tribune archives, Li and co-defendants Wang Huaishu and Ni Yongbing, were initially each charged with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a federally controlled substance, and conspiracy to maintain drug-involved premises.

The charges were filed after Division of Customs uncovered parcels addressed to the individuals containing methamphetamine, which later led to the discovery of a meth den in Papago.

The three defendants were arrested following an investigation led by the CNMI Drug Enforcement Task Force. The investigation was launched after the CNMI Customs and Biosecurity Division discovered over two pounds of methamphetamine in a USPS parcel addressed to Li’s post office box in Chalan Kanoa.

John Henry Sablan, Customs Bureau of Contraband Enforcement captain, said the Customs officers found the two pounds of methamphetamine packed inside a shipment of glass vases.

“The package was in what looked like some temporary cardboard boxes, like our last seizure. The substance was found during a Customs routine inspection at the U.S. Post Office. It was packaged in some chinaware, specifically glass vases,” he said.

After the interception, an investigation into the receiver of the package was launched, which ultimately uncovered a meth den in Papago where another 100 grams of meth were seized. Aside from the drugs, a large sum of cash was also found at the residence.

Kimberly Bautista Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Bautista Esmores has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.
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