FBI Made An Arrest During Raid Of Offices Of Saipan Casino Construction Department

Arrest and raid allegedly related to workplace visas, specifically targeting companies that bring in foreign workers under the guise of being tourists 

By Bryan Manabat

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, April 03, 2017) – The Federal Bureau of Investigation has made an arrest after executing a search warrant Thursday on the 2nd floor of the Kase II Building where the offices of Best Sunshine/Imperial Pacific International’s construction department and its contractors are located.

“The FBI conducted a search and made an arrest in response to the recent death of an individual working at the construction site of the Imperial Pacific Resort,” Michele Ernst of the Guam Resident Agency, FBI Honolulu Field Office said on Saturday.

She added, “The investigation is related to allegations of a federal violation of the workplace visa system, including reports the company was systematically harboring individuals who are out of status and in violation of federal statutes.”

Asked to provide more details, Ernst said: “Court records will ultimately have to speak for themselves.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office representative Mae Blas said U.S. Department of Justice policy does not allow them to comment on whether or not there is an investigation.

As of press time Sunday, the U.S. Department of Labor had not replied to Variety’s request for comment.

Imperial Pacific, for its part, said the FBI “visited” a contractor’s office, not IPI’s construction department.

On Sunday, Gov. Ralph Torres said the FBI search on Thursday involved MCC Inc., a contractor of Imperial Pacific.

“For the past several weeks,” he said, “I have been informing our business community that the practice of bringing in foreign workers under the guise of being tourists threatens our economy and our continued growth. The recent FBI action on MCC for their hiring practices is in line with my personal goal to increase penalties against those who threaten our community’s progress.”

He added, “My office is working on submitting a request to the Department of Homeland Security to allow local CNMI officers to perform the duties of federal immigration officers, outlined in section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. If approved, we will have the legal backing to continue to crack down on this practice using CNMI resources, because it will not be tolerated.”

CNMI Labor Secretary Edith Deleon Guerrero, in a separate interview, said the death of the construction worker who fell from a scaffold at the hotel-casino construction site on March 22, 2017 is still under investigation.

“We initiated the investigation because the law requires the secretary of Labor to conduct investigations in connection with deaths or injuries at any job site,” she said.

When asked whether the death had been reported by the construction firm to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Office, the secretary of labor said she did not know.

“Federal agencies may be conducting their own investigations but, as of now, we are conducting a local investigation under CNMI Public Law 15-108.”

She said when the investigation is completed, the results will be forwarded to the CNMI Attorney General’s Office.

Marianas Variety
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