U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona on Friday ordered the continued detention of Yuliu Liu and Zhenlin Fang, the two alleged overstaying tourists who were arrested in connection with the seizure of over 10,700 grams of methamphetamine or “ice” worth about $3.2 million to $4.3 million.
In granting the U.S. government’s motion for the defendants’ continued detention pending trial, Manglona agreed that no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure Liu’s and Fang’s appearance in court and the safety of the community.
The judge said there is probable cause to believe that Liu and Fang have committed an offense for which a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years or more is prescribed in the Controlled Substances Act and the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act.
The U.S. government charged the two suspects with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance.
Manglona set a status conference for Aug. 28 at 9am and remanded the defendants into the custody of the U.S. Marshal Service.
Assistant U.S. attorney Ross Naughton argued the U.S. government’s motion.
Attorneys Steven Pixley and Benjamin Petersburg, court-appointed counsels for Fang and Liu respectively, argued the defendants’ opposition.
According to the complaint, a Customs inspector detected the “ice” inside an air compressor in a container from Guangzhou, China, at the seaport warehouse last July 17. That led federal and local authorities to make a follow-up investigation that led to the arrest of the defendants last July 22.
Fang, 24, entered Saipan on conditional parole on March 22, 2013, and that he is already subject for removal.
Liu, 36, entered Saipan on conditional parole on June 25, 2014, and was interviewed by Homeland Security in October 2014 as he was already out of status. During the expedited proceedings last Oct. 21, Liu was allegedly ordered to return the following day, but he failed to do so.
Lu has been expeditiously removed and is now classified as a fugitive from immigration, according to a Homeland Security investigator.
Pixley has argued, among other things, that Fang’s name was not in the shipment’s documents and that no drug was found during the search of his house in Upper Navy Hill.
Petersburg also argued that his client’s name was not in the shipment’s documents and that he was not aware of what was inside the air-compressor.