FBI finds 189 out of 400 Chinese passports, indicating holders overstayed visa
Separate criminal complaints were filed in federal court yesterday against the project manager and an electrician for MCC International, the contractor for the Imperial Pacific Resort project, in connection with Thursday’s search by the Federal Bureau of Investigation of a commercial building in Garapan.
The complaint charged MCC project manager Yuqing Zhao, 42, and MCC electrician Pei Ruan, 28, with unlawful employment of aliens and bringing in and harboring certain aliens.
Zhao was arrested on Saturday and taken to the U.S. District Court for the NMI yesterday afternoon for his initial appearance. After the hearing, Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona remanded Zhao to the custody of the U.S. Marshal pending a detention hearing this Thursday at 4pm.
Zhao appeared with his counsel, Colin Thompson. Assistant U.S. attorney Eric O’Malley moved to detain Zhao pending trial, saying he is a flight risk.
It is not clear when the hearing for Ruan will take place, as apparently she has not been arrested yet as of yesterday afternoon.
The U.S. government also filed late yesterday afternoon separate criminal complaints against two more individuals, charging them with the same offenses.
In a statement yesterday, Imperial Pacific International said it has not received any notice of investigation from the FBI and that no employee of Imperial Pacific has been arrested.
Imperial Pacific said that based on information available, the search and arrest was made against certain construction contractors and sub-contractors involved in the resort/casino construction project in Garapan.
Imperial Pacific said it has paid its construction contractors the requisite fees for processing needed applications for workers to work on the construction project.
“Imperial Pacific will continue to implement measures and consider additional measures to ensure compliance of federal and local laws, and regulations and to fulfill its contractual commitment to the community,” the company said.
FBI special agent Scott Berkland filed in court on Friday an affidavit in support of criminal complaints and arrest warrants against Zhao and Ruan.
Berkland reports finding 189 Chinese passports in their search at MCC’s office. The passports indicated that the holders had overstayed their visa parole period, he said.
Berkland disclosed that he and other FBI agents executed a court-authorized search warrant at offices located on the second floor of the Kase II Building in Garapan on Thursday.
He said Ruan identified herself as an employee of MCC International Saipan Ltd. Co. and was an electrician.
Ruan had a small red purse that contained over $4,000 and explained that she received the money from the MCC finance department and used the money to pay cash bonuses to workers, for which she maintained a handwritten ledger.
Berkland said that during a search of Ruan’s office, they discovered several boxes and one Docomo bag filled with about 400 Chinese passports stored in a locked cabinet behind Ruan’s desk.
At the FBI’s request, Ruan unlocked the cabinet.
Among the passports in the cabinet were 181 passports of Chinese nationals who entered Saipan as visa parolees, he said.
Each of the passports the FBI inspected indicated the passport holder had overstayed their parole period.
In a locked drawer in Ruan’s desk, Berkland said, the FBI discovered eight Chinese passports of individuals who had entered the island as visa parolees. The agent said all eight passports indicated the passport holders had overstayed their paroles.
When asked about this, Berkland said Ruan stated that she was the government liaison for MCC, and was responsible for filing social security and other documents on behalf of MCC employees.
Ruan advised that her supervisor was Zhao.
Berkland said during the search, the FBI also interviewed an MCC executive and several other employees, who identified their boss as Zhao.
The FBI contacted Zhao at his telephone number at 11:45pm on Thursday to request that he take possession of the premises and receive the receipt of items seized during the search.
Berkland said Zhao arrived at the Kase II Building at 12:15am on Friday and identified himself as the project manager for MCC.
The agent said Zhao’s passport contained his CW-1 visa, which indicated he was sponsored by MCC International.
Zhao held a key to the MCC office premises.
Berkland said at the conclusion of the search, Zhao signed the receipt of items seized, and secured the premises.
FBI spokesperson Michele Ernst said the search warrant was against MCC International and Beilida Overseas (CNMI) Ltd., which is a subcontractor to MCC.
Coincidentally, the Francisco C. Ada Saipan International Airport was awash with departing passengers on Sunday, many of them construction workers and many just had their tickets purchased Sunday.