Two CNMI Casino Construction Company Employees Arrested For Hiring Illegal Aliens

FBI search warrant on MCC International Saipan Limited leads to arrests

By Bryan Manabat

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, ) – Following the execution of a search warrant by the Federal Bureau of Investigation at MCC’s construction offices on the 2nd floor of the Kase II Building in Garapan on Thursday, two employees of MCC International Saipan Limited Co. were arrested for unlawful employment of aliens and bringing in and harboring aliens.

The FBI said it discovered 400 Chinese passports, of which 189 belonged to persons who arrived on Saipan as visa parolees and had already overstayed.

If convicted, the two defendants — Zhao Yuqing and Ruan Pei — could face 10 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000 for harboring aliens, and six months of imprisonment and a $3,000 fine for each count of unlawful employment of aliens for a total of $450,000 in fines and 90 years of imprisonment.

On Friday, Federal Bureau of Investigation special agent Scott Berkland filed two separate criminal complaints against Zhao Yuqing and Ruan Pei in the District Court for the NMI.

According to court documents, Berkand speaks, reads and writes Mandarin, and is a nine-year veteran of the FBI. He is also familiar with the modus operandi of persons involved in the recruiting, employing and concealment of undocumented workers, specifically those from China, and the terminology used by persons involved in those illegal practices.

Berkland stated that during the court-authorized search warrant executed at the offices on the 2nd floor of the Kase II Building, Ruan Pei identified herself to be an employee of MCC International Saipan Ltd. Co. Ruan Pei told the FBI agent that she was an electrician.

MCC is one of the contractors of Imperial Pacific which is currently constructing its hotel-casino in Garapan.

Berkland said Ruan Pei carried a small red purse that contained $4,000 and she explained to the agent that she received the money from the MCC finance department to pay cash bonuses to deserving workers, for which she maintained a handwritten ledger.

The FBI discovered several boxes and a red bag filled with approximately 400 Chinese passports stored in a locked cabinet behind Ruan Pei’s desk. Among the passports in the cabinet were 181 passports of Chinese nationals who entered Saipan as visa parolees.

The holders of each of the passports inspected have already overstayed their parole period, the FBI said.

FBI agents also found eight passports in a locked desk which Ruan Pei unlocked upon request — all eight passports indicated that the holders had overstayed their parole.

Berkland said when questioned, Ruan Pei said she was the government liaison for MCC, and was responsible for filing Social Security and other documents on behalf of MCC employees.

Ruan Pei told the FBI that her supervisor was Zhao Yuqing. Other MCC employees interviewed by FBI confirmed and identified Zhao Yuqing as the boss.

The FBI contacted Zhao Yuqing to take possession of the premises and to receive the receipt of items seized during the search.

Zhao Yuqing identified himself as the MCC project manager. His passport contained his CW-1 visa which indicated that he was sponsored by MCC. Zhao Yuqing also held the key to the MCC office.

An initial hearing was held for Zhao Yuqing on Monday before District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona.

Yuqing was represented by attorney Collin Thompson and interpreter Wang “Julie” Zheng while Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric O’ Malley appeared for the federal government.

The prosecution orally moved to detain the defendant, saying that Yuqing was a flight risk.

The court set the detention hearing for Thursday at 4 p.m., and the preliminary hearing for April 17, 2017 at 1:30 p.m.

The court also found that the defendant was entitled to a jury trial. Following the hearing, the defendant was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

On Monday, Imperial Pacific International said in a statement that it had not received any notice of investigation from the FBI.

“No employee of Imperial Pacific International has been arrested,” it added.

“Based on the information available, the search and arrest was made against certain construction contractors and subcontractors involved in the construction project in Garapan.

“Imperial Pacific has paid construction contractors requisite fees for processing needed applications for workers to work on the construction project.

“Imperial Pacific will continue to implement measures and consider additional measures to ensure compliance with federal and local laws and regulations and to fulfil its contractual commitment to the community.”

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