Backpack sends 4 to hospital


Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services Hazmat Unit members in protective gear inspect the suspicious bag left on Plumeria Avenue in Garapan yesterday morning that caused four police officers to suffer dizziness and vomit after inhaling the contents. (Derek Gersonde)

A backpack that was thrown away by a habitual offender during a police chase on Plumeria Avenue in Garapan yesterday morning had four officers feeling nauseous and dizzy after they opened it and inhaled the chemicals inside the bag. The chemicals later turned out to be used in making crystal methamphetamine or “ice.”

Medics of the Department of Emergency Medical Services brought the four officers to the Commonwealth Health Center. They were treated and released.

A brief foot chase resulted in police arresting a suspect, 39-year-old David Sablan, who will be charged in federal court for attempting to manufacture a controlled substance, according to Department of Public Safety spokesperson Jacqueline Rae Shepard.

She said that DPS received a call at 4:04am about a suspicious man walking back and forth in front of the Micro Beach Hotel in Garapan. Police officers located the suspect, identified as Sablan, at 4:20am, but when they tried to approach him, he ran down an alley and tossed a backpack.

After a short chase, police arrested Sablan and found the backpack.

Shepard said that smoke poured out of the backpack when the officers opened it.

Police officers cordoned the area off until the arrival of DFEMS Hazmat Unit. Hazmat Unit members, in protective gear, procured the bag and rendered it safe.

“DFEMS took every precaution to make sure the items inside the bag did not explode, and ran tests to determine if the chemicals were being used to create meth,” Shepard said.

DFEMS spokesperson Derek Gersonde said the backpack and its contents were handed over to the Drug Enforcement Administration Task Force for further investigation.

Shepard said DEA and DFEMS confirmed that the chemicals were those used to make “ice” and collected the bag and its contents as evidence.

Separately, Gersonde said it was reported to DPS at 5:07am that a suspicious bag had been left behind on Plumeria Avenue between the Poseidon Bar and Café at the Park.

Two minutes later, firefighters and medics from the Garapan Fire Station responded to the scene, Gersonde said, and found four police officers complaining of nausea and dizziness after opening the bag.

Two of the officers started vomiting within minutes after they inhaled the contents.

“If anyone finds a suspicious bag, please do not open or touch the package and call 911,” Gersonde 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

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