IN BIGGEST CNMI DRUG HAUL OF $4.3M WORTH OF ‘ICE’
Zhenlin Fang and Yuliu Liu on Friday were slapped with 10-year prison sentences each over the seizure and detection of over 10,700 grams of methamphetamine or “ice” reportedly worth about $4.3 million.
U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona ordered that upon release from imprisonment, Fang and Liu shall be placed on supervised release for five years.
The defendants were given credit for time served.
Among the conditions of the supervised release is that Fang and Liu will report to an immigration official for deportation proceedings.
If deportation does not occur and defendants are released pending further immigration proceedings, they will be required to report to the U.S. Probation Office to begin their term of supervised release.
Among the conditions of supervised release is for defendants to perform 50 hours of community work service.
Fang and Liu were ordered to pay each $100 in special assessment fee.
Fang and Liu were ordered to immediately pay a fine of $1,383 and $697, respectively.
Manglona ordered the money seized from the defendants at the time of their arrest be returned to defense counsel Steven Pixley and Mark Hanson.
In return, Pixley and Hanson will use the seized money to pay the defendants’ fine and assessment fee.
During their arrest, Fang had $1,483 in his possession, while Liu had $797.
Assistant U.S. attorney Garth Backe said the U.S. government waived the forfeiture provision.
Backe agreed with the U.S. Probation’s recommendation to impose 120 months imprisonment on defendants.
Backe disagreed with the recommendation to have the defendants participate in a substance abuse program.
Backe stated that defendants were drug dealers and there was no evidence that they were drug users.
The defendants were remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshal.
Last Jan. 7, Fang, 24, pleaded guilty to count 1 of the indictment charging him with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine.
On Dec. 31, 2015, Liu, 36, pleaded guilty to count 1 of the indictment charging him with possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine.
The offense carries a minimum mandatory penalty of 10 years imprisonment, but also allows for a maximum sentence of up to life in prison. The offense also carries a maximum fine of $10 million and at least a five-year term of supervised release.
According to the factual basis of the plea deal, on July 22, 2015, Fang and Liu picked up an air compressor at the Sunleader Company warehouse they believed had at least 10 kilograms of methamphetamine secured inside. The two intended to later distribute the “ice” to at least one other person.
On that same day, Liu intentionally possessed at least 100 grams of methamphetamine.
Liu maintained premises for the purpose of distributing the methamphetamine.
A Customs inspector detected the “ice” inside an air compressor in a container from Guangzhou, China, at the seaport warehouse on Saipan last July 17. That led federal and local law enforcers to make a follow-up investigation that ended with the arrest of Liu and Fang last July 22.
About 130 grams of “ice” were reportedly discovered at Liu’s residence during a search operation. The $4.3 million worth of “ice” was reportedly the biggest drug haul in the CNMI history.