$314K worth of ‘ice’ seized


CNMI Division of Customs and Biosecurity director Jose C.  Mafnas, third from left, tells during a news briefing yesterday how Customs officers intercepted 1,048 grams (2.13 lbs) of crystal methamphetamine or “ice” from a package at the U.S. Postal Service in Chalan Kanoa last Thursday. Also in the press briefing, from left, are Customs planner and public information officer Reina C. Camacho, Department of Public Safety assistant chief of police Lawrence Camacho, and acting Department of Finance Secretary Tracy B. Norita. Inset shows the seized package. (FERDIE DE LA TORRE)

CNMI Customs officers have arrested a man who allegedly picked up a package containing 1,048 grams of crystal methamphetamine or “ice” with a total street value of $314,400, at the U.S. Postal Service in Chalan Kanoa last Thursday.

At a press conference yesterday, CNMI Customs Biodiversity director Jose C. Mafnas said a Chinese male national who tried to pick up the package and admitted to being its recipient was arrested and that local and federal law enforcers are investigating further.

Mafnas said that Customs officers discovered during a routine inspection at the U.S. Postal Service last Thursday 1,048 grams or 2.2 lbs of crystal methamphetamine that was rolled in a towel and concealed in a package.

He said the suspect, a male Chinese national in his mid-40s, was there to pick up the package and immediately arrested after the discovery of the “ice.”

Mafnas said he does not have more information about the suspect, aside from saying that the package had just come from California.

Acting Finance secretary Tracy B. Norita, who was also present at the news briefing at the Customs Biosecurity office at the seaport, praised the Division of Customs and their partners with the Department of Public Safety and Drug Enforcement Administration for a “job well done.”

“Drugs that enter our ports end up in our communities and in our homes, and it’s because of these law enforcement officers that we keep drugs off our streets. So we are very grateful for their service to our community,” Norita said.

DPS assistant chief of police Lawrence Camacho said this is good news for the community as the illegal drugs were intercepted in the CNMI’s front door before it could come in and harm the community.

Camacho said DPS has been a long-time law enforcement partner with Customs against illegal drugs.

Mafnas said the Division of Customs Biosecurity, with the blessing of Gov. Arnold I. Palacios and Lt. Gov. David M. Apatang and the Department of Finance, are committed to establishing a strong partnership with local and federal law enforcement agencies, and to its many partners and stakeholders in the community, both business and private.

“This interception…serves as a reminder of the ongoing efforts to combat the illegal flow of drugs and other contraband into the CNMI,” Mafnas said.

He said he is grateful and appreciate the assistance of DPS, DEA, the U.S. Postal Service, and the U.S. Postal Inspector Service for assisting them in this matter.

Mafnas said it was a routine inspection for Customs officers at the post office on all packages going out both for tax purposes and enforcement. “And so when this person was called in to the table for inspection, that’s when the officers discovered these drugs,” he said.

Mafnas said the 2.2 lbs of “ice,” along with four other lbs of “ice” that were also seized recently by Customs officers, were given to DEA to be sent to an off-island laboratory for further testing.

Mafnas said the final targeted destination of the “ice” that was seized Thursday is the CNMI, where it is the drug of choice on the islands.

“I hope we can stop [the smuggling] and have all the users treated or cured so the demand for these dangerous drugs is over or ceased. Right now, it’s still a drug of choice,” he said.

Mafnas said they are vigilant and still building capacities to ensure that CNMI borders—airports and seaports, and post office—are safe.

“We try our very best to prevent these drugs or any contraband from entering the CNMI,” he said.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com
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