IN REVEALING EXTENT OF BIRTH TOURISM NETWORK

FBI’s informant a physician

Witnesses identify clinic, buildings where defendant took, brought pregnant women

The Hua Mi Apartment in Garapan, which is also called Hanamitsu Hotel and Spa, where Sen Sun’s alleged clients and caretakers used to occupy the entire complex. (Ferdie de la Torre)

It was a physician who tipped off the Federal Bureau of Investigation to Sen Sun’s alleged operation of a large birth tourism network on Saipan, according to federal court documents.

FBI special agent Scott Berkland disclosed in an affidavit that a physician stated in an interview on Sept. 21, 2017, that Sun brought many of his clients to the Marianas Medical Clinic for prenatal checkups and normal childbirths.

Berkland issued the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, seizure, and arrest warrants against Sun. The affidavit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the NMI last Nov. 2.

Sun, an alleged overstaying Chinese tourist, was indicted in federal court for allegedly operating an unlicensed business that offered trip packages to the CNMI for pregnant Chinese women seeking to give birth here.

Children born in the CNMI automatically obtain U.S. citizenship.

The indictment charged Sun with harboring illegal aliens, unlawfully employing aliens, and money laundering.

Berkland said the physician initially got to know Sun through their interaction at the Marianas Medical Clinic. Sun or an interpreter would accompany the women to their appointments.

The special agent said the physician then began living in Sun’s residence in July 2017, after which she gained more knowledge about Sun’s activities.

He said the physician stated that she knew Sun employed several interpreters from China who were working illegally on Saipan.

Sun also allegedly employed about 30 caretakers to cook, clean, and care for his clients while they were on island.

The physician believed Sun paid the caretakers approximately $1,000 per month, and that all of the caretakers were also working illegally.

The physician said that Sun drives a Lexus SUV.

Another confidential informant also provided information to the FBI about Sun’s activities.

Berkland believes the informant to be credible, and has corroborated much of the informant’s information through additional investigation such as interviews, physical surveillance, and video and audio recordings.

Berkland said that, on Oct. 4, 2017, the informant stated that Sun employed a caretaker from China who was working as a “hei gong,” a Chinese term denoting an illegal worker. The informant believed Sun paid the caretaker approximately $1,200 per month.

Berkland said the informant added that the caretaker lived in the Hua Mi apartment complex in Garapan.

The informant believed Sun’s clients and caretakers occupied the entire Hua Mi apartment complex.

Saipan Tribune learned from sources that Hua Mi apartment refers to the Hanamitsu Hotel and Spa.

In addition, Berkland said, the informant said the caretaker was a member of a WeChat group called “sai han a yi qun,” or “Saipan Aunty Group.” The group allegedly had 42 members, one of whom was the caretaker. The members worked as caretakers in the birth-tourism industry.

The informant believed that all of the caretakers were illegal and that many worked for Sun.

Berkland cited a WeChat communication where the caretaker allegedly stated that Sun paid her $1,800 per client, and that each client was for 45 days of work.

Berkland said the caretaker added that Sun paid her in cash, but that he only paid her when he was in a good mood and that he owed her several payments.

Berkland said the caretaker also stated that all of the caretakers in Hua Mi worked for Sun and added that Sun used several properties for client accommodations such as the Futaba, 747 Building, and the Sunshine Garden.

Berkland said that in an interview on Oct. 10, 2017, the caretaker stated that she had been working as a caretaker on Saipan illegally for about six months.

She also advised that she worked for Sun, who had paid her three times, each time in cash totaling $4,180.

The caretaker further stated that she had been recruited in China by a company that promised her she could enter the CNMI on a “landing visa” and then apply for a long-term resident/work visa once here.

Before arriving on Saipan, she was not aware that she was ineligible to work.

Berkland said the caretaker lived at the Hua Mi apartment complex and that she took care of one client at a time, and lived in the same unit as the client.

Berkland said the Hua Mi apartment has three floors and four units on each floor.

The agent said Sun used all of the units for his clients and caretakers.

Sun also allegedly used the Futaba and 747 Building for his clients and caretakers.

Berkland said the caretaker believed Sun employed about 30 caretakers, not one of whom had a work visa. All of the caretakers made approximately the same salary. She believed Sun paid all of the caretakers in cash or via account transfers in China.

Berkland said that, on Oct. 17, 2017, a cooperating source agreed to covertly record a dinner conversation with Sun.

The agent said the recording device malfunctioned, but the cooperating source nonetheless reported that during their conversations, Sun admitted knowing that his caretakers were illegally present and working in the CNMI, and that they were duped into coming to Saipan by a company in China promising permanent residency in the U.S.

Berkland said he was present during a verbal internet communication between a cooperating source and Sun last Nov. 1, in which Sun in Chinese stated that Saipan is really small and that he will find the cooperating source and he will make that the cooperating source give him back all of his money.

Berkland said he believes that Sun’s statements were intended as threats to physically harm the cooperating source.

ShareTweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook0Share on Google+0Share on LinkedIn0Pin on Pinterest0Share on Tumblr0Email this to someonePrint this page
Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com

Related Posts

  • Tradesman

    Witness protection is in the next order in the federal level. The local law will not help her.

  • Saipan Haole

    Who cares what kind of car Sun drives??? Shitty reporting Tribune- Why not just out every informant in every case while you are at it…

  • Saipan Haole

    Maybe they neglected to pay her enough…

    • FedUpWithSaipan

      What a pathetic comment regarding a person trying to do the right thing. This has nothing to do with money. No wonder this island is in the sad shape that it is.

  • FedUpWithSaipan

    How dare you blame the informant. So, it would be better to say NOTHING like others who have always remained quiet? And how don’t you know that any tip was donated right back to the people of Saipan? You must have a sad life if you have to spend time online blaming people who speak up and try to do the right thing. Great job for encouraging people to stay shut.

  • FedUpWithSaipan

    And this physician took great care of birth mothers medically and that’s it! She had no idea that she would be working in birth tourism and as soon as she discovered criminal activity, she reported it. But it’s been going on for many, many years before that and NO ONE SPOKE UP.

  • FedUpWithSaipan

    This is such irresponsible, unprofessional reporting. How would you ever expect others to do the right thing and contact authorities when they now know that they will become the headline instead of the one indicted?

Disclaimer: Comments are moderated. They will not appear immediately or even on the same day. Comments should be related to the topic. Off-topic comments would be deleted. Profanities are not allowed. Comments that are potentially libelous, inflammatory, or slanderous would be deleted.