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24 Chinese appear in CNMI court to face charges

By Andrew O. De Guzman SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Jan. 6, 2010) - THE Immigration and Customs Enforcement of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security yesterday intercepted a fishing boat in the waters off Guam, and arrested 24 Chinese nationals for the attempted illegal smuggling of humans.

At 6:30 p.m. last night, U.S. District Court of the Northern Mariana Islands (NMI) Chief Judge Alex Munson concluded the initial court appearance for the defendants —18 males and six females.

Other details of the ICE operation were not immediately available.

The federal government filed charges of attempting to bring an alien into the United States against two individuals, a male and a female, who are said to be the organizers of the group.

The rest of the 22 arrested individuals were each charged with attempted improper entry by an alien to the United States.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eric O’Malley and Kirk Schuler represented the federal government.

The arrested individuals were assisted by a court-appointed interpreter.

Shortly before 5 p.m., the U.S. Marshals Service, together with agents from other federal agencies, escorted the arrested individuals into the courtroom.

Munson read the charges against each of the 24 defendants and ordered the appointment of counsel for them.

Munson did not set bail and will entertain motions after their arraignment today.

Munson then remanded the arrested individuals to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

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