CNMI Customs intercepts ‘ice’ sent through mail

THE CNMI Customs intercepted a tampered coffee-container containing methamphetamine or “ice” sent via mail from San Antonio, Texas, leading to the arrest of two men a few days before Christmas.

Daniel S. Buniag, 29, and Ronnie M. San Nicolas, 24, were charged with trafficking of a controlled substance. Buniag was additionally charged with possession of a controlled substance

At the Dec. 24, 2018 bail hearing, Superior Court Associate Judge Kenneth L. Govendo imposed a $100,000 cash bail each on Buniag and San Nicolas.

The defendants were ordered to return to court on Jan. 2, but they waived their right to a preliminary hearing.

They will be arraigned on Jan. 7 at 9 a.m. before Presiding Judge Roberto Naraja.

The public defender’s office was appointed as San Nicolas’ counsel while private attorney Jeff Horey was appointed as Buniag’s counsel.

 According to court documents, on Dec. 20, 2018, after a routine inspection, a Customs officer intercepted a USPS priority box that contained illegal substance.

The package was addressed to Buniag who had told the Customs officer that it contained items for his daughter.

The Customs officer, during the inspection, noticed that the silver seal on a coffee container appeared to have been tampered with.

When asked about the packaging, Buniag’s demeanor changed and he became nervous, the Customs officer said.

“He panicked and informed the Customs officer that the package may have been addressed to his uncle with the same name,” court documents stated.

Buniag then told the Customs officer that someone else owned the package, and that he did not know what was in the package.

The Customs officer proceeded to open the coffee container’s seal and poured the contents in a clear trash bag. He noticed two separate packages inside with some crystalline substance. The crystalline substance in the package tested positive for presence of methamphetamine, court documents stated.

In a statement to the Drug Enforcement Task Force, Buniag stated that a “local male acquaintance asked him to use his mail box to receive a package on behalf of another acquaintance, Ronnie San Nicolas.” Buniag said he agreed on the condition that he would be compensated.

Buniag said on Dec. 19, he  received a call from San Nicolas informing him that the package was arriving on Dec. 20. On that day, he said he received another call from San Nicolas who told him that the package was ready for pick up.

Buniag told detectives that he initially contacted San Nicolas to back out from their agreement, adding that he was worried that the use of the mail box would be for an illegal purpose. But San Nicolas told him “it was too late as the package was already sent.”

Buniag also showed the police his cellphone showing messages received from San Nicolas regarding the package.