DEA seizes meth, cash, handguns from drug suspect

LOGO: A U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency device is shown here. The federal agency, alongside the NMI Drug Enforcement Task Force, recently executed a search warrant issued by the federal court and seized 1.6 pounds of methamphetamine, an undetermined amount of cash and two handguns with ammunition from a man suspected of dealing drugs who was staying at a hotel. Contributed photo

SAIPAN - The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, along with the Northern Mariana Islands Drug Enforcement Task Force, on Wednesday executed a search warrant issued by a federal court and seized 1.6 pounds of methamphetamine, an undetermined amount of cash and two handguns with ammunition from a man accused of dealing drugs who was staying at a hotel.

On Friday, the defendant, Shou Qui, also known as Ike, appeared in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service before Magistrate Judge Heather Kennedy of the District Court for the NMI for an initial hearing.

Qui was charged with one count of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance (methamphetamine), and one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

The court appointed attorney David Banes on a limited basis to represent Qui in the initial hearing and detention hearing as the defendant’s financial affidavit had yet to be submitted. Betty Bai was appointed the interpreter for the defendant.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Garth Backe appeared for the federal government.

Judge Kennedy scheduled a detention hearing for 9 a.m. Jan. 19 and a preliminary hearing for 1:30 p.m. Jan. 27 before remanding Qui to custody.

In his affidavit in support of criminal complaint and arrest warrant, DEA special agent Kirk F. Johns said a room on the sixth floor of Hyatt Regency Saipan was under DEA surveillance before agents executed the search warrant Jan. 12, 2021.

A woman, later identified as a companion of Qui, was observed coming out of the hotel room and heading to the front desk, where she paid for another room on the third floor.

She then went back to the hotel room on the sixth floor. She was observed later leaving the room on the sixth floor again, and this time going to the room on the third floor.

When the woman headed back to the room on the sixth floor later in the afternoon, the DEA special agent and a Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Customs officer identified themselves and showed their badges.

The DEA agent said the woman, identified as Juhua Wang, tried to close the door on them as they attempted to enter the room.

Inside the room, Qui was found hiding in the bathroom, but he was secured without incident, the DEA agent said.

As he was patted down, Qui was found to possess in his right front pocket two zip-close bags containing a white crystal-like substance weighing approximately 5.7 grams.

In the same room, the DEA agent said, the officials found a firearm, a Raven Arms .25-caliber auto-pistol and five rounds of ammunition, a large amount of cash, and about 4,900 Ziploc-style bags.

The agents likewise seized a U.S currency counting machine, two scales, a Western Union receipt, used glass pipes, and two cellphones.

The room’s safe was searched but was found empty.

In the room on the third floor, agents seized a large amount of cash, a container with suspected methamphetamine residue, a glass pipe, a scale and a cellphone.

In the room’s safe, agents found 1.3 pounds of methamphetamine in three large zip-close bags, an 8 mm GAP handgun with three rounds of 9 mm ammunition and 28 rounds of .25-caliber auto ammunition.

According to the DEA agent, Qui’s father also was staying in the room on the third floor.

Qui, in a freely given statement to the agent through an interpreter, stated that all the illegal items found in the rooms are his and that the woman and his father had nothing to do with them, according to court documents.

Qui said he was mainly supplied by two people who would give him between 100 grams and 500 grams, depending on his sales.

Qui also said that “he has more local customers than anyone on island.”

Asked about the guns, Qui said they were given to him by one of his suppliers, adding that that they were “for protection, ... because I deal with locals in Saipan and I am scared somebody is going to rob me.”

He said he had been staying in the hotel for the past six months, but only rented a second room “a couple of days ago.”

No other information about the defendant was available as of press time Monday evening.