‘Confessed drug dealer believes possibility of hired killer’

$9,000 per drug transaction using bank system revealed

A confessed dealer of methamphetamine or “ice” in the CNMI has revealed a sophisticated system for paying his supplier, using the banking system to funnel $9,000 to his supplier per transaction, according to federal court documents.

The “ice” distributor also allegedly believes in the possibility of a hired killer having been sent here to liquidate those who testify against the “ice” supplier or family members of any witnesses.

In his report filed before the U.S. District Court for the NMI, special agent Kirk Johns of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said that in his proffer interview with Yang Kang Chen last Feb. 23, Chen estimated that he bought “ice” from Yang Zou on four to five occasions per month for a couple of months.

In a proffer interview, suspects talk about their knowledge of crimes. Under this arrangement, the suspect is assured that his or her statements will not be used against him or her.

Chen pleaded guilty last Jan. 27 to distribution of a controlled substance. Zou was sentenced last Friday in federal court to eight years and one month in prison for possession with intent to distribute “ice.”

Johns said that, according to Chen, he would buy 50 grams of “ice” at each deal for approximately $160 per gram, and that he remembered paying Zou $9,000 per transaction.

Johns said the interview was held at the U.S. Attorney’s Office on Saipan and that present were Chen’s counsel, Benjamin Petersburg, DEA Task Force officer Ray Renguul, assistant U.S. attorney Garth Backe, and a translator.

Chen allegedly stated he and Zhou would meet in various locations but usually in the parking lot of Chen’s apartment in Garapan.

Chen allegedly stated that, one occasion when he was in China, his wife meet Zou in a parking lot to retrieve drugs in order for Qiran Li to sell shortly thereafter.

Li was also indicted with two counts of distribution of a controlled substance. He has already pleaded guilty and was slapped with an 18-month prison term last May.

Chen added that his wife only did what he told her to do and estimated that she picked up drugs on about three occasions.

When Zou would deliver the drugs to Chen, he would usually put the drugs in a Marlboro Red cigarette pack; rarely, he would use a Chinese branded cigarette box.

Chen stated that Zou drove two vehicles.

At a second proffer interview last March 3, Chen told Johns that his wife would deliver the drugs to Qiran Li for re-distribution.

Chen stated that when he would purchase drugs from Zou, he would transfer money from his Chinese bank account to Zou’s Chinese bank account via wire transfer.

Chen stated that while he and Zou and another man were all housed in the same cell shortly after their arrests, Zou told him that the cigarette packs in the casino trash can were his.

Chen said Zhou stated that he would never plead guilty to the charges against him because there were no cameras in the casino bathroom.

Zou also allegedly told Chen that he threw the drugs in the trash because he thought people were following him.

Zou also allegedly stated that if someone were to testify against him, he would have someone on the outside “do something.” Chen took this to mean a contract killer would be hired to either kill the testifiers or their family members.

Chen thought this was possible because a certain “Hong Kong guy” has ties to the Chinese mafia.

Chen stated that he remembered that in approximately May 2016, Zou had told Chen that he had two people come to Saipan around New Year’s Eve in order to “handle any trouble that may arise.”

Chen estimated that these conversations happened about four days after their arrests on Dec. 14, 2016.

Chen stated that the three of them were separated in detention cells, but later put together temporarily based on some cells being full.

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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