Alleged drug trafficker is released on bail

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A man who is accused of two counts of trafficking of a controlled substance, methamphetamine, was allowed to post bail.

Mark Anthony Benavente, 38, was released to his girlfriend and third-party custodian upon posting 10 percent of his initial bail of $10,000.

Benavente’s lawyer, chief public defender Doug Hartig, argued that he is not a flight risk and should be allowed to have his initial bail amount modified.

Superior Court Presiding Judge Robert Naraja approved to modify Benavente’s bail and allowed his girlfriend to serve as his third-party custodian.

Other conditions imposed on Benavente is a 7am to 7pm curfew, random drug testing, and Benavente is prohibited from leaving home without his third-party custodian past curfew.

Benavente was arrested following two sting operations by the Drug Enforcement Task Force.

According to the declaration of probable cause, the charges against Benavente are backed by recorded phone conversations and identification by a cooperating source.

The declaration of probable cause states that on Jan. 11, 2018, and Jan. 18, 2018, Benavente was caught, through the task force’s cooperating source, distributing “ice” in Chalan Kanoa.

On Jan. 11, 2018, at about 11:35am, task force officers monitored a phone conversation between the cooperating source and Benavente, where they agreed to meet at the Shany Laundry and Poker in Chalan Kanoa to make the transaction.

Although Benavente was initially hesitant on the phone to sell “ice” to the cooperating source, he still went through with it.

Task force officers later showed the cooperating source a picture of Benavente and the source confirmed that the man in the picture was the man he met at the Shany Laundry and Poker.

Task force officers tested the crystalline substance procured from the cooperating source for methamphetamine and the results turned up positive.

The second “buy-walk” operation was on Jan. 18, 2018, at the Shany Laundry and Poker at around 2:19pm.

In May 2015, Benavente was sentenced to two years in prison after pleading guilty to burglarizing and stealing money and an iPad from the Pena House Boutique in Chalan Kanoa.

Kimberly B. Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista 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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