Improvised meth-making nets man 41 months in prison

The federal court sentenced a man yesterday to three years and five months in prison for conspiring with others to make methamphetamine or “ice” via the “shake-and- bake” style.

U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona also plans to recommend participation in a substance abuse program for David Muña Sablan while he is in prison.

The 40-year-old Sablan was given credit for time already served in jail. He has been in jail since his arrest last March 15, 2018.

Once he gets out of prison, Sablan will be placed on three years of supervised release.

While on probation, he will be required to participate in a substance abuse treatment program, not allowed to consume any alcoholic beverages, and shall perform 100 hours of community service.

Sablan was ordered to pay $100 in special assessment fee and $3,662 in restitution to one of four police officers who were injured during his arrest. A restitution hearing will be done for the three other officers.

The Department of Public Safety is said to have paid the hospital bills for the police officers, but DPS has yet to submit its report for restitution to the U.S. Probation Office.

The four claimed to have suffered ill effects after opening a bag that Sablan had left behind as he was evading the police last March 15, 2018. The bag contained chemicals for making methamphetamine.

Manglona ordered Sablan to participate in the inmate financial responsibility program so he can pay restitution to the police officers.

Manglona noted that Sablan has a long criminal history starting when he was a juvenile.

In this case, there was an actual injury that the court can’t dismissed.

“You need to grow up. You need to be a man.” Manglona told the defendant.

Manglona told Sablan to get out from drug addiction and be addicted to his family instead.

Sablan has four children, including the youngest who was born while he was in jail in this case.

Manglona pointed out that when sober, Sablan, who is said to be good in basketball, was a valuable member of the community.

Manglona said Sablan associated with bad people and learned the shake-and-bake method in cooking meth while he was in Guam.

Manglona said they learned in another case, though, that Sablan is not the original carrier to Saipan of the shake-and-bake method.

The judge said she learned about Sablan from the presentence investigation report, that he has an issue about controlling his temper.

Before the sentence was handed down, Sablan was allowed to speak. He apologized to the court, his family, DPS, the U.S. government, U.S. Probation Office, U.S. Marshal, and court security officers for his crimes.

“I take responsibility for what I’ve done,” he said. He promised to be a better father and son, and that he is looking forward to having a positive impact on the community.

As he has been sober for over a year now, Sablan said he now has peace of mind and, in fact, enjoys his time at the Department of Corrections.

The court-appointed counsel for Sablan, Janet H. King, concurred with the recommendation of assistant U.S. attorney Garth Backe to impose on Sablan a sentence that’s at the low-end range of 41 months—three years and five months.

King pointed out that Sablan substantially cooperated with investigators in this case.

King said Sablan made it clear that he needs to address his drug addiction.

The defense counsel said Sablan is best remembered by his family and friends as a good person who made bad decisions, but most of all he is remembered as a talented and passionate basketball player.

King related that Sablan and his wife’s marriage became strained near the end of the 2000s. She said he then stopped playing basketball and started associating with troubled people that introduced him to gambling and drugs.

Backe, counsel for the U.S. government, said his recommendation of 41-month imprisonment is at the low end of the sentencing guidelines, but is still a substantial amount of time.

Backe said Sablan did harm some police officers, which is very troubling but the prosecution truly believes that he accepted responsibility for his actions, that he pleaded guilty immediately and cooperated with the police.

Sablan pleaded guilty to conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine. He said that he conspired with at least one other person to manufacture methamphetamine last March 15.

Sablan said that, at the behest of another person, he obtained items such as lye, lighter fluid, plastic bottles, and tubing, for the purpose of making methamphetamine using the makeshift “shake-and-bake” method outside Best Poker in Garapan on March 15, 2018.

As part of their plan, he was supposed to receive some of the “ice” that was produced for his personal consumption and that another person would get the rest to sell to others.

Sablan admitted that he purchased pseudoephedrine at local pharmacies on Jan. 13 and 15, 2018, twice, and on Jan. 22, 2018, to make methamphetamine.

Sablan threw a backpack and a bag that contained chemicals and items used in making “ice” during a police chase in Garapan on March 15, 2018. Four police officers complained of nausea and dizziness and vomited after they inhaled the chemicals.

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
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