IN CASE AGAINST MAN CONVICTED IN 2ND BIGGEST ‘ICE’ HAUL IN CNMI

Docs showing suspect admitting not seeing agents seize belongings ordered

U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona has ordered the U.S. government to provide the court with a document that the prosecution alleges as evidence that a man convicted over a large methamphetamine or “ice” shipment admitted he did not see the Drug Enforcement Administration agents seize his belongings.

In an order last Thursday, Manglona gave the U.S. government until Thursday, Oct. 18, to submit the document as a supplement to its pending motion summary judgment in connection with Xi Huang’s request.

Huang has been seeking the court’s help for the return of his suitcase and personal items that were allegedly seized by DEA agents from his hotel room on Saipan.

Manglona said if the U.S. government intends to rely on Huang’s discovery response in support of its motion for second motion for summary judgment, it must provide that document to the court.

Manglona said in its second motion for summary judgment filed last Sept. 14, the U.S. government referred the court to Huang’s response to the U.S. government’s request for answers to admissions.

Last June, Manglona said she will hold an evidentiary hearing pertaining to Huang’s request.

In the same June order, Manglona issued a ruling favorable to the U.S. government over the seizure of Huang’s $1,130 cash in the same search in his hotel room in 2015.

Manglona said because Huang did not file a claim before the $1,130 was forfeited, he is not entitled to challenge the basis of the forfeiture in these proceedings.

In his motion to return, Huang asserted that the U.S. government must return $1,130 cash, a suitcase with personal clothing, and wallet that were taken from his hotel room at the time he was arrested on Dec. 4, 2015.

Subsequently, the U.S. government filed a motion for summary judgment, contending that it never seized the suitcase, wallet or clothing, and that the $1,130 was forfeited.

Huang said federal agents took his 1,130,600 yuan, Gucci travel bag, two cell phones, cell phone charger, banner shoes, khaki pants and shirts, Gucci wallet, and hair trimmer.

One cell phone has already been returned to Huang.

Meanwhile, in Huang’s recent response to the U.S. government’s second motion for summary judgment, he said the U.S. government cited a litany of cases in support of its argument that “sovereign immunity bars award of money damages against motion to recover property seized by federal agents where property could not be returned.”

At the same time, Huang said, the U.S. government admitted to seizing some—but not all—of his personal property.”

However, the defendant said, the U.S. government failed to produce any evidence as to what it did with the remaining personal items belonging to him.

He said the very premise of the court’s order issued on June 11, 2018, was that the U.S. government has failed to produce any evidence as to what it did with his other personal items contained in his luggage that were not forfeited or destroyed.

He said no single evidence was produced by the government, nor any reasonable explanation shown by the arresting officers what they did with other remaining personal items contained in his luggage.

Thus, Huang asserted, the U.S. government’s sovereign immunity argument does not bar from producing evidence showing what its agents did with personal items belonging to a defendant in a DEA custody.

Interestingly, he said, the U.S. government attempts to persuade the court that since he was in DEA’s custody when his hotel room was search, he could not have seen the DEA seize the items he alleged were taken from his hotel room.

Huang said the issue is not whether the personal items were destroyed or forfeited, but what the DEA agents did with those remaining personal items that was shown in the discovery.

Huang is currently serving 15 years and eight months of imprisonment in federal prison over the shipment of methamphetamine or “ice” then worth $850,000.

Huang pleaded guilty to an indictment charging him with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine. He was sentenced in August 2016.

A routine Customs inspection at the Port of Saipan of a 40-foot container from China resulted in the discovery of the 4.9 lbs. of “ice” hidden in three plastic bags in one of the nine 5-gallon paint containers on Dec. 2, 2015.

Joint federal and local enforcers investigated the shipment, resulting in the arrest of Huang and two co-defendants.

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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