A US Federal Judge for the NMI District Court has ordered the release of Qi Xiufang and Guo Wencai, two people arrested earlier in relation to as many as 180 illegal ‘tourists’ from China who were employed by a subcontractor, Beilida Overseas to work on the Imperial Pacific Resort in Garapan.
The two had attempted to leave the island for China on April 5 and were apprehended there. Each was released last week to a third-party custodian after posting bail and agreeing to conditions set by Magistrate Judge Heather Kennedy.
Conditions included one defendant being ordered to pay her own attorney fees and both of them being subject to location monitoring and home detention.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric O’ Malley appeared for the government at the detention hearing. The government believes that Qi and Guo were part of Beilida Overseas’s scheme to bring in Chinese workers as tourists, take their passports, and use them for labor. Officials recovered over 180 passports during an earlier office raid on the island.
Another contractor for the resort developers, MCC, had also allegedly employed ‘tourists’ as construction workers. MCC project manager, Zhao Yuqing was released to a third party custodian last week. The custodian will monitor Zhao when he is at the worksite.
On Friday about 50 MCC employees staged a protest in Garapan claiming they had not been paid by the contractor since February. Many if not most of the protestors are thought by local media to be illegally in the US. Living conditions for the workers housed in barracks were deemed “unacceptable” by CNMI Labor Secretary Edith DeLeon Guerrero and Independent Rep. Ed Propst was seen handing out bread to the workers according to local reports.
The 50 or so originators of the protest had stopped work and were eventually joined by some current workers when the protest moved the resort worksite. The protestors are fighting to be paid before they leave the island.
IPI released a statement last week stating that they do not condone the hiring of illegal labor and instructed all contractors and subcontractors to follow all laws in their labor practices in accord with their contracts.
Beilida Overseas is a subcontractor of MCC, the general contractor for the Imperial Pacific Resort. Offices of both companies were searched by the FBI recently, leading to the arrests of four people including those named earlier, as well as MCC electrician Pei Ruan.