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4 meth defendants plead not guilty

FOUR men arrested for conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine pleaded not guilty on Wednesday before the District Court for the NMI.

Vincent David Cabrera Jr., Eugene Blas Repeki Jr., Rick Urumelog Omar Jr. and Sidney Capelle Kani appeared with their respective court-appointed counsel.

The four were charged with conspiracy to manufacture and distribute methamphetamine, conspiracy to possess chemicals, products, and equipment to manufacture methamphetamine.

In a separate indictment Repeki and Kani were charged with distribution of methamphetamine, and manufacture and distribution of methamphetamine on premises where a child is present and resides.

Repeki and Omar were also indicted for a separate count of distribution of methamphetamine and manufacture and distribution of methamphetamine where a child is present or is residing.

Cabrera was likewise indicted for maintaining drug-involved premises.

According to the indictment, from July 1, 2017 to Feb. 25, 2018, Cabrera, Repeki, Omar, Kani and others conspired and agreed to possess equipment, chemicals, products and materials which may be used to manufacture methamphetamine such as pseudoephedrine, lithium batteries, cold packs, iodized salt, lye, lighter fluid, water bottles and coffee filters; knowing, intending and having reasonable cause to believe that they would be used to manufacture “ice.”

Repeki and Kani on Feb. 1 knowingly and intentionally manufactured and distributed meth on premises where an individual who was under the age of 18 was present and residing, the indictment stated.

It added that Repeki and Omar on Feb 8, 2018, knowingly and intentionally distributed and intentionally manufacture meth on premises where an individual who was under the age of 18 was present and residing.

The indictment stated that Cabrera leased, opened, rented and maintained Room #18 at Saipan Vegas Resort Hotel for the purpose of manufacturing, distributing or using methamphetamine.

On Feb. 25, 2018 the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and the CNMI Drug Enforcement Task Force executed a warrant on Cabrera’s Saipan Vegas hotel room and Repeki’s Dandan residence.

Federal authorities were alerted “by the curious pattern of a number of individuals purchasing big doses of cold medicines that contains active pseudoephedrine in local pharmacies.”

According to the DEA, an informant also provided vital information to the identity of the suspects and their illegal activity of manufacturing and distribution of methamphetamine.

A notice of criminal forfeiture was filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Garthe Backe against the four defendants.

Benjamin Petersburg appeared as counsel for Cabrera; Steven Pixley is counsel for Repeki; Colin Thompson is counsel for Omar; and David Banes is counsel for Kani.

At the hearing on Wednesday, Banes moved for Omar’s release to a third-party custodian pending trial.

But Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona said she will not entertain the motion without any background check from the U.S. Probation Office or any reliable source.

She ordered the U.S. Probation Office to submit a background check and scheduled a third-party custodian hearing for April 2, 2018 at 1:30 p.m.

The trial will commence on May 31, 2018.

Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/103260-4-meth-defendants-plead-not-guilty

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