Ex-Corrections officer, 4 others arrested in ‘ice’ busts


Lawmen arrested five suspected “ice” traffickers on Saipan, including a former Corrections officer, in separate anti-drugs operations over the weekend.

The five suspects made their initial court appearance yesterday and a bail of $100,000 was imposed on each one.

Tawhid Kapileo Bhuiyan, 27, a former Department of Corrections officer, and his suspected accomplice, Joel Lee Pangelinan, 37, were arrested on two drug charges and a conspiracy charge.

Joey Cabrera Duenas, 37, was arrested for trafficking and illegal possession of a controlled substance.

Ricky Michael Jones, 31, and Roland Kaipat, 36, also known as Yo Yo, were arrested for illegal possession of a controlled substance.

Preliminary hearing will be on June 22 at 9am for all defendants. Bail hearing was held before Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho.

Assistant public defender Tillman Clark was appointed as counsel for Bhuiyan and Duenas, and private counsels will be appointed for Pangelinan, Jones, and Kaipat.

Assistant attorney general Chester Hinds appeared for the government.

In the case against Bhuiyan and Pangelinan, an officer of the CNMI Drug Enforcement Task Force received information that Bhuiyan was buying “ice” while then-employed at Correctioins.

A cooperating defendant said that he/she met with Bhuiyan at a poker arcade in Kagman, where Bhuiyan offered to call him if he/she wants to buy “ice.”

During a “buy-walk” operation last Feb. 2, the cooperating defendant managed to buy $60 worth of “ice” from Bhuiyan and Pangelinan during a deal inside Bhuiyan’s pickup truck.

Task force investigation revealed that Pangelinan was always present in several prior narcotics busts.

DETF officers served an arrest warrant on Bhuiyan and Pangelinan in Kagman on Friday night.

In the case against Duenas, a cooperating defendant told the task force that he/she has been purchasing $30 to $100 worth of “ice” from Duenas last week and in the last couple of months.

The cooperating defendant managed to buy $100 worth of “ice” from Duenas during a “buy-walk” operation in the parking lot of a poker arcade in Kagman last Wednesday.

Duenas was arrested in Kagman on Friday afternoon.

In the case against Jones and Kaipat, the two were arrested while task force officers were serving an arrest warrant on Duenas at K&M Poker in Kagman on Friday.

While investigators were placing Duenas in handcuffs, they saw a tinted Hyundai Accent sedan park in front of the poker arcade. Because of the proximity where the investigators were executing the arrest and for officers’ safety, several investigators knocked on the window of the driver’s door to inform the occupants of their presence.

It was the same car that Duenas allegedly used with other persons after the “buy-walk” operation.

When the driver’s window was rolled down, officers recognized Kaipat on the driver’s seat. The man in the front passenger seat was later identified as Jones.

When Jones opened the glove compartment of the car to get the car registration, an officer saw baggies and straws.

An officer then allegedly found a baggie from the seat cover that contained “ice.”

Kaipat and Jones were then arrested.

DETF said all the purchased and seized substances tested presumptive positive for the presence of meth.

Last Thursday, the task force also arrested Christopher John Eger and his girlfriend, Crisanta Canosa Noche, for allegedly selling “ice” in Chalan Kanoa.

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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