26 Feb 2018
- By Kevin Kerrigan – For Variety
HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — Authorities didn’t find what they were looking for when they conducted a search on a Koblerville property Feb. 17, 2018.
Joseph Strantz, the supervisory senior resident agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Guam and the Northern Marianas, said FBI agents joined CNMI police in what he called an “evidence-recovery excavation.”
He said they were looking for the remains of Maleina and Faloma Luhk who the FBI believes were kidnapped from a bus stop near their home on May 25, 2011. The sisters were 10 and 9 years old at the time they disappeared.
“We’ve been doggedly pursuing every possible lead,” Strantz told the Rotary Club of Guam, Thursday. “Unfortunately, we did not recover what we suspected were the remains there.”
The Department of Public Safety and the CNMI Attorney General’s Office have declined to comment.
Strantz said the top criminal priority for the FBI on Guam and in the CNMI is public corruption.
He said the FBI’s mission to combat public corruption “serves a very important function in Guam and in Saipan.” He added, “If our public officials fail, then the rule of law disintegrates really quickly.”
He declined to discuss any specific cases now under investigation, but he acknowledged that the number of agents on Guam and in the CNMI has increased recently, although he declined to say just how many agents are now in the two territories.
“We are now fully staffed,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of attention out here with some of our cases.” In particular, he cited the Imperial Pacific Resort and Casino in Saipan where the FBI executed a search warrant last year after the death of one of the Chinese workers which resulted in the prosecution of those involved, and a lot of media attention.
Rotary members, however, were more interested in a recent explosive article by the Bloomberg news service which suggested the possibility of money laundering at the resort given the more than $2 billion in bets that the casino is reportedly handling on a monthly basis.
Strantz declined to say whether that was something the FBI was looking into.
Strantz named fraud against the government as the second priority. “The territories and the Compact nations receive a tremendous amount of federal aid each year,” he said.
“Hundreds of millions of dollars pour into the islands,” he said, acknowledging that “some of that money doesn’t actually get where it was intended to go…and is diverted for personal use.”
He declined to discuss specific cases, but said such crimes “are very serious, because we’re talking about money for schools, hospitals, roads and infrastructure.”
Other serious crimes
Internet crimes and sophisticated white-collar crimes against private businesses also are a focus of a lot of the agency’s attention. But drug crimes, said Strantz, generally are not on the radar because the federal Drug Enforcement Agency and local law enforcement are doing a good job handling those crimes.
Separate from its mission to combat criminal activity are the FBI’s national security responsibilities in the region. Those responsibilities include counterterrorism and counterintelligence, said Strantz.
“Obviously, we have a lot of interests here in Guam that we need to protect,” said Strantz. “The FBI is very vigilant in its national-security mission.”
Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/102507-fbi-agent-on-koblerville-search-we-did-not-recover-remains