David Sablan, who allegedly threw a backpack that contained chemicals used in making crystal methamphetamine or “ice” during a police chase in Garapan, allegedly admitted to a police officer that he was trying to manufacture crystal meth using the “shake and bake” method.
The “shake-and-bake” method in making crystal meth on Saipan recently came to light with the arrest of four men in connection with an alleged clandestine “ice” lab on the island.
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration special agent Kirk F. Johns disclosed that a review of the purchase logs for a pharmacy showed that Sablan bought 1,968 milligrams of active pseudo-ephedrine last Jan. 13.
The U.S. Marshal served an arrest warrant on Sablan last Thursday after the DEA filed a criminal complaint charging him with conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine.
In his affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, Johns said the investigation into the “shake-and-bake” method began last Oct. 15 when he was tipped off by a pharmacy employee to some buyers’ suspicious purchase of cold medicine containing pseudo-ephedrine.
Johns said it was learned that when someone wants to buy medicine containing pseudo-ephedrine, they must provide an identification card. Each individual is limited to the purchase of 3.6 grams or 3,600 mg (active ingredient) per day, for a total of nine grams or 9,000 mg (active ingredient) per 30-day period.
Johns said that, last March 15 at 3:45am, a concerned citizen was awakened by a fire alarm within the JJ Building on Plumeria Avenue in Garapan.
JJ Building houses the Best Poker gameroom on the first floor and residential housing units on the second floor.
The citizen reviewed surveillance video and saw a man, later identified as Sablan, walking on the second floor balcony of the JJ Building. Johns said Sablan was seen walking downstairs to the ground floor.
The citizen checked the stairs and noticed a brown backpack sitting near the curb of Plumeria Avenue, not too far from the Best Poker entrance.
The citizen contacted the security guard of Best Poker who was inside the gaming establishment.
Upon entering the gameroom, the citizen saw Sablan and motioned the security guard to come outside.
Upon exiting Best Poker, Sablan followed the guard and the citizen and began asking what was going on with the bag.
At 4:07am, the citizen called 911 to report Sablan’s suspicious activity.
Five minutes later, two police officers arrived at the scene and met with the citizen. A minute later, two other police officers arrived to assist.
One of the officers saw Sablan walking near the Noodle House Restaurant. As officers tried to approach Sablan, he then ran toward the American Memorial Park. One officer arrested Sablan in the jungle area of the American Memorial Park at 4:24am.
Johns said that when the officer was transporting Sablan to the Best Poker area, the suspect told him that he was trying to make “shake and bake.”
Upon reaching the Best Poker area, the officer was approaching the brown backpack on the ground, but Sablan told him he might need Hazmat for that.
The officer picked up the backpack, placed it on the police car and unzipped one of the zippers.
A puff of white smoke came out, but the official initially thought it was just dust. But the officer, and the three other officers who were standing nearby, quickly started coughing. The four officers ultimately vomited, according to Johns.
The four officers were transported to the hospital, while Sablan was secured in a police vehicle.
At this time, the street was shut down to traffic and secured.
Johns said he, the Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services Hazardous Material Unit, and members of the CNMI Drug Task Force responded to the scene.
Investigators saw a backpack on the sidewalk near the entrance to the Best Poker on Plumeria Avenue.
The second bag, a black Nike brand bag, was located about 65 feet north of the brown bag, also on the sidewalk.
Johns said a search of the brown bag revealed a Fiji water bottle with orange powdery substance inside and a green 2-liter bottle with a hose coming out its cap and emitting white smoke.
There was also a brown bottle with an amber liquid inside it, a white bottle labeled 100 percent lye, a pair of wire cutting pliers, two containers of lighter fluid, additional rubber hose, and an orange pill bottle with a white residue inside.
Investigators had the Hazmat Unit personnel take a representative sample of the amber liquid for analysis.
Johns said a search of the second bag revealed a container of salt, two pairs of pliers, an Energizer lithium battery, an air respirator, coffee filters, a blue funnel, and a white towel.
Johns said Sablan stated that the stuff in the brown bag was not his and that he was not sure what was in it. Sablan identified the person who allegedly asked him to pick up the backpack.
Sablan said he had picked up the bag on the second floor balcony above the Best Poker for a friend.
When asked why he placed the backpack on the ground, Sablan replied that he did not want to take it inside the establishment.
Sablan admitted that the other Nike bag was his and that he must have dropped it when either walking away from or running from the police.
Johns said at first Sablan stated he did not know anything about the battery or salt inside the Nike bag, but later admitted he bought the items for his friend to cook “ice.”
Sablan said his friend would give him some “ice” in exchange for purchasing the items.
Asked why he would be on the pseudoephedrine purchase logs, Sablan allegedly stated that from time to time he has a stuffed up nose congestion and that it is a hereditary problem.
Johns said following the removal of the chemicals from the public area, DPS and Hazmat Unit opened the street of both vehicular and foot traffic.