Message Gate: Li Guilty

February 27, 2010

Shiguang Li one of the 24 aliens arrested on January 5, 2010 was found guilty of attempting to illegally enter the United States. The 41-year-old Li was arrested with 23 others on January 5, 2010. The Marianas Variety reported details about the trial that took place on February 24, 2010:
“All elements are present [for conviction] in an illegal entry by an alien…which have been proven beyond reasonable doubt,” Munson stated in his oral judgment.

“This is an important verdict, and necessary to deter foreign nationals in the CNMI from attempting to enter Guam without lawful authority,” said U.S. Attorney Leonardo Rapadas in a statement.

Rapadas added that “the Department of Justice is intent on investigating and prosecuting these cases, and foreign residents of the CNMI need to understand the consequences that can result from entering or attempting to enter Guam illegally.”
Rapadas said the case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Services.
The court-appointed defense attorney, Bruce Berline asked that his client be released on bail while awaiting sentencing. According to the Variety the motion was denied by Judge Alex Munson because the defendant "was judged guilty and has not accepted responsibility for his crime." The sentencing was set for June 1, 2010.

The exhibit list included: Defendant’s Border Management System (BMS) Records (two pages), Guam ID, Map, Covert Video of December 2, 2010, Undercover Meeting (Three DVDs), Covert Video of January 4, 2010, Undercover Meeting (One DVD), Transcript of January 4, 2010 Undercover Meeting from 5:35:30 to 5:43:09, Picture of Small Boat, Picture of Large Boat.

According to the minutes of the trial, the witnesses were Border Management System custodian Tom Torres and U.S. ICE Special Agent Erfel Mantanguihan. Also present were U.S. ICE Special Agent Blu Shiroma and U.S. Assistant Attorney Kirk Schuler.

Twenty one of the defendants arrested January 5, 2010 pleaded guilty and signed plea agreements. They received one year probation and will be repatriated. Only Shigueng Li and the two ring leaders, Jian Li and Qing Mei Cheng pleaded innocent.Qing Mei Cheng, the governor's masseuse and Jian Li both spent a month in jail and are now out on bail awaiting their May 2010 trial.

The Variety article gave some insight to the plot. ICE agent Matanguihan posing as a boat captain testified that there were phone calls and meetings with the Li, Lian, Cheng and some others who wanted to go to Guam. From the Variety:
There were also audio and video recordings of the meetings, some of which were held at different hotels on Saipan where the defendants’ biographical information was taken by Matanguihan for their purported identification card on Guam, amounting each to $200.
Instructions were also provided to the defendants “to act normally” so as not to be put in jail, Matanguihan said.
He told the court that he informed Jian Lin and Fitial’s masseuse that his human smuggling fee was $2,000 per head.
Showing a nautical chart for Saipan and Guam to the defendants, Matanguihan informed them that they would be landing on a beach somewhere in Tumon after a mid-sea transfer using inflatable boats since the big boat they would use could not approach the shore.
At their designated rendezvous point at the American Memorial Park pavilion in the morning of Jan. 5, Matanguihan said he turned on his flashlight at about 5:30 a.m.

He later saw individuals who turned out to be the defendants coming out of their hiding places.
Matanguihan said all of defendants boarded the boat at the Smiling Cove.
He said Jian Li and two others requested for a discount of $1,000 after receiving 24 bundles of money.
Matanguihan said Fitial’s masseuse left the boat after the transaction. He said he followed Cheng who was walking in the dock area. U.S. ICE agents then arrested the 23 defendants on the boat, including Shiguang Li.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post. The trial exposed some interesting facts. "Matanguihan said Fitial’s masseuse left the boat after the transaction. He said he followed Cheng who was walking in the dock area." It seems that the governor's masseuse may have been in on the scheme to collect money, not to go to Guam. Maybe the others paid $3,000 and Lian and Cheng took a cut. It looks like the ringleaders were collecting the cash. Or maybe she got a call from the governor asking for a massage so she left the boat.

Anonymous said...

Cheng and Lian will get a harsher sentence. They took the money and were the recruiters.

Saipan Writer said...

Matanguihan means fish-face or fish-eyes.

Just saying.