The two overstaying Chinese tourists who were arrested in connection with the seizure of over 10,700 grams of methamphetamine or “ice” worth about $3.2 million to $4.3 million have been indicted in federal court.
The indictment, filed on Monday, charged 36-year-old Yuliu Liu and 24-year-old Zhenlin Fang with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine.
A separate indictment, also filed Monday, charged Liu with possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine.
Both indictments contain a criminal forfeiture allegation.
Last Aug. 14, U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona ordered the continued detention of the defendants pending trial, saying the evidence shows they cannot be counted on to attend legal proceedings.
The judge said that, in October 2014, Immigration officials discovered that Liu had overstayed a tourist visa, was not lawfully present in the CNMI, and subject to immediate removal.
Manglona said Immigration officials ordered Liu to return the next day, but he failed to appear and no contact with Immigration was made until his arrest in July 2015.
Manglona said Liu had about $800 on him when he was arrested, and about 130 grams of “ice” were discovered at this residence, suggesting he may have access to hidden assets that he could use to escape.
Also, Liu has no family ties to the community, she said.
Manglona said the same holds true for Fang. She said Fang, who entered the CNMI in 2013 on a tourist visa that has long since expired, is not lawfully present in the CNMI.
Despite having no legal status to work, the judge said, Fang lived in a two-story house and drove a Lexus. Wen arrested, Fang had $1,500 in hand and contraband item was found at his home, Manglona said.
She said Fang argues that he earned the money legitimately, but his lavish lifestyle and the money found on his person suggest otherwise.
The judge said Fang has no ties to the community, and may have hidden assets he could use to escape.
A Customs inspector detected the “ice” inside an air compressor in a container from Guangzhou, China, at the seaport warehouse on Saipan last July 17. That led federal and local law enforcers to make a follow-up investigation that ended with the arrest of Liu and Fang last July 22.