The CNMI Division of Customs Biosecurity intercepted another large shipment of methamphetamine or “ice”—roughly over four pounds—that were guised as packages filled with candies during a routine inspection at the U.S. Postal Service in Chalan Kanoa.
Customs director Jose Mafnas informed the media during a press conference last Friday that Customs seized 4.04lbs of crystal methamphetamine during that inspection and that Customs officers managed to intercept the “ice”—valued at over $549,000—before it was sent out to a private mailbox.
According to Mafnas, Customs officers were doing routine inspection last June 21 at the U.S. Postal Service of parcels that were going out to private postal companies and that’s when the officers discovered one of three parcels that were filled with candies. Upon removing the candies, officers uncovered crystalline substances in a large ziplock baggy that later tested presumptive positive for methamphetamine. The two other parcels were opened and examined and officers uncovered crystalline substances in the packages as well.
Mafnas said that Customs then contacted other local enforcement partners and, after further investigation, led to the arrest of two Chinese nationals, a male and female named Yang Chun and Wang Yurong, respectively.
In a statement from Department of Finance Secretary David Atalig, he said the seizure by the Customs Biosecurity officers is commendable.
“Crystal meth is a very addictive illegal drug and corroding our social fabric, and is destructive to families and individuals. Thus, Custom’s diligent efforts at the ports of entry to keep our communities safe is vital to our island economy and the health of the people of the Commonwealth. I am proud of the officers involved in this particular seizure, and consequent arrests. Thank you to director Mafnas and his team and other law enforcement partners,” he said.
Last Friday, Yang and Wang were brought before District Court for the NMI Magistrate Judge Heather Kennedy for an initial appearance on charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a federally controlled substance.
The judge set a detention hearing for the pair on June 28 at 1:30pm before Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona. Meanwhile a preliminary examination for the two defendants was set for July 8, at 9am before Manglona.
According to court documents, at around 3pm one June 21, Customs replaced the “ice” inside the parcel with fake items and the package was shipped to the private mailbox company called Pacific Postal Plus where surveillance was established in the vicinity.
CNMI Customs relinquished custody of the package (with the sham) to the manager of Pacific Postal Plus to be delivered per their normal operating procedures.
At approximately 6pm, Pacific Postal Plus closed for business and Customs retrieved the parcel and maintained custody until the next day.
On June 22, at approximately 7:30am, DEA Task Force officer Mike Pangelinan installed a GPS tracker and a sensor that indicates if the parcel is moving and if light enters the parcel indicating the parcel has been opened. Surveillance was re-established at Pacific Postal Plus Mail Service and, at approximately 7:50am, the parcel was brought back to the Pacific Postal Plus for delivery.
At approximately 3:40pm, surveillance observed an individual identified as Li Ding Rossi driving a pink Ford Mustang pull up to the Pacific Postal Plus Mail Service. At approximately 3:46pm, Rossi exited Pacific Postal Plus with the parcel and placed it in the trunk of her vehicle.
Rossi drove to JY Car Wash on Middle Road where she met an unknown female who was washing cars. Rossi opened the trunk to the pink Ford Mustang and the unknown female appeared to be taking pictures of the parcel. Approximately two minutes after Rossi closed the trunk, a lime green Yaris arrived, and Rossi and the unknown female approached the driver. The unknown male driver then retrieved the parcel from the pink Ford Mustang and placed it in the back seat of the Yaris. The man, unknown female, and Rossi lingered in the area until approximately 4:23pm when a white Prius arrived. Wang met the white Prius some time later near Johnny’s Bar in Garapan and took the parcels.
Wang was followed by the DEA to an apartment behind Godfather’s Bar where she met with Yang who later triggered the tracker that was placed inside the parcels.
Police arrested Wang and Yang after the tracker detected light indicating the package had been opened.