Shake-and-bake style to cook meth gets men 15 years

The two men who pleaded guilty to being involved in a clandestine crystal methamphetamine lab that used the so-called shake-and-bake method were slapped Friday with 15 years imprisonment each.

After serving the prison term, Vincent David Cabrera Jr. and Eugene Blas Repeki Jr. will be placed on three years of probation.

During probation, they will be required to perform 100 hours of community service. They were also ordered to pay $100 in court assessment fee, with credit for the time they have already served in prison.

“You victimized the people around you,” U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona told the two.

Cabrera was cited as the one who had a prior experience in the shake-and-bake method while in Guam, that he brought it here, and there were testimonies that other people learned the technique from him.

For Repeki, Manglona said he has already been given a second chance as he was convicted before for murder, but his 30-year prison sentence was aborted as he was paroled. Yet, Manglona said, Repeki continued violating the law.

Repeki was convicted in 2000 of murder in the second degree in connection with the fatal beating of a Filipino security guard in Chalan Kanoa in 1999.

In 2001, then-Superior Court associate judge Timothy H. Bellas slapped Repeki with a 30-year prison term. The CNMI Board of Parole granted his request for parole in March 2010.

Manglona pointed out that there are defendants who served more than 10 years in prison but still managed to return as productive members of the community.

“I do hope you change your life. It’s up to you now,” the judge said.

The remaining charges were dismissed.

Before they were sentenced, Cabrera and Repeki addressed the court.

Cabrera said he is very remorseful. “To my children and family, forgive me,” Cabrera said.

Repeki apologized to the court, his children, wife, family, and to the community.

Repeki said his addiction to crystal meth has caused nothing but grief to his family.

Assistant U.S. attorney Garth Backe had recommended a sentence of 240 months or 20 years in prison each for Cabrera and Repeki.

Backe said the court has to send a strong message to the community to deter other people who may also commit the same crime.

Backe said the shake-and-bake method is now spreading in the CNMI, that what were heard in court from the defendants were “empty pleas for mercy.”

Benjamin Petersburg and Steven Pixley, the court appointed counsel for Cabrera and Repeki, both recommended a sentence of 10 years imprisonment each.

Cabrera and Repeki signed a plea deal with the U.S. government. Last September, Cabrera pleaded guilty to conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine. Repeki plead guilty to conspiracy to manufacture and distribute methamphetamine.

The offense carries a maximum penalty of not more than a 20-year term of imprisonment, a fine not to exceed $1 million, not less than a three-year term of supervised release, restitution, and a $100 special penalty assessment.

According to Cabrera’s factual admissions, between on or July 1, 2017 and Feb. 25, 2018, he, along with Repeki, Rick Urumelog Omar Jr., Sidney Capelle Kani, and others, agreed to manufacture methamphetamine.

Cabrera said they would smoke the manufactured methamphetamine, as well as sell and/or give to other people.

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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