Ex- soldier, girlfriend get 2 years in prison for drug trafficking


A former South Korean soldier and his girlfriend were slapped last week with a two-year prison sentence in the Superior Court for trafficking methamphetamine or “ice.”

Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho on Wednesday sentenced Sung Joon Park, 42, to the maximum of eight years’ imprisonment, with the first two years to be served and the six years suspended, as to the offense of trafficking of a controlled substance.

Camacho sentenced Li Hui Shi, 41, to the maximum of six years’ imprisonment, with the first two years to be served and the four years suspended, for trafficking of a controlled substance.

Park and Shi will be eligible for parole after serving a third of the two years; both were given credit for time served. After serving the two-year prison term (whether or not they are granted parole), Park and Shi will be placed on 10 years’ probation. Park and Shi were each ordered to pay a $25 in court costs and $120 in probation fees per year.

Camacho said the sentence imposed on Park and Shi touches upon the three goals of sentencing: deterrence, retribution, and incapacitation. The judge said that, after serving two years in prison, Park and Shi will have time to reflect and be rehabilitated. Camacho said he finds the defendants ideal candidates for rehabilitation, with intense supervision by the board of parole, hence the length of the sentence of two years.

Camacho said the defendants will continue to be supervised by the Office of Adult Probation upon their release from the Department of Corrections.

Park, who was discharged from the South Korean military as a sergeant major, has admitted to being a drug addict. Shi denies she is a drug user.

Camacho ordered Park to attend and complete any counseling program as determined necessary by the Community Guidance Center.

Camacho said that, with intense supervision by parole, Park and Shi have the motivation to be on good behavior if they truly want to change their life for the better.

CNMI Drug Enforcement Task Force agents arrested Park and Shi in November 2019, saying their “cooperating source” bought $550 worth of “ice” from Park and Shi during a sting operation on Oct. 25, 2019, at their home in Dandan. The “cooperating source” was allegedly able to buy again $540 worth of “ice” from the two on Oct. 28, 2019.

Camacho noted that Park asked Shi at least twice to facilitate an illegal drug transaction by making a call and then taking the money to the drug dealer to obtain the “ice.” Upon delivery, Park shared some of the “ice” with the buyer (informant).

Camacho said, he finds that an accurate picture is that Shi and Park knew that “ice” is an illegal drug and worked out a system to avoid detection by law enforcers attempting to separate the money transaction and the drug transaction and the “stash house.”

Camacho pointed out that the illegal drug business is by nature a clandestine business. In this case, Camacho said, the unnamed drug dealer came very quickly once the call was made. “This point is significant to the court,” the judge said, adding that even requiring the buyer (informant) use the drug in front of Park is yet another scheme to try to weed out if the buyer was working with law enforcement and an attempt to avoid detection.

Camacho said though Shi tries to paint herself as less culpable than her boyfriend, he finds that she was a willing and knowing participant in trafficking “ice.”

Camacho said Park is not eligible for the CNMI Drug Court Program as he is a non-U.S. citizen and is out of immigration status.

Camacho said a copy of his order for the defendants shall be provided or placed in the box for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security-Immigration and Custom Enforcement.

In Park’s case, assistant attorney general Chester Hinds recommended a sentence of eight years, five years to serve, three years to be suspended, with parole eligibility, and $5,000 fine. Defense counsel Michael Dotts recommended a sentence of one year, with credit for time served, and $5,000 fine.

In Shi’s case, Hinds recommended a sentence of six years, three years to serve, three years to be suspended, and $5,000 fine. Dotts recommended a sentence of time served and a $5,000 fine.

Defendant has two prior traffic cases in the CNMI—a misdemeanor reckless driving and no driver’s license in possession and speeding.

From 2003 to 2019, Park was employed as an assistant manager with a family company—Joon Corp. The company later became bankrupt and closed down. From 2005 to 2007, Shi was employed as a beautician on Saipan. From 2014 to 2016, she worked as a manager of her company. The company has since closed down.

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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