Districts of Guam & the Northern Mariana Islands | PRC Citizens Sentenced for Conspiring to Transport Illegal Aliens to Guam


Saipan, MP – Shawn N. Anderson, United States Attorney for the Districts of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, announces that on July 2, 2024, ChangCai Dong, age 61, and YongBing Tang, age 54, both citizens of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) were sentenced in the District of the Northern Mariana Islands for Conspiring to Transport Illegal Aliens, in violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1324 (a)(1)(A).  The Court ordered each defendant to serve 30 days in prison, one year of supervised release, 50 hours community service, and pay a $100 mandatory assessment fee.  Both defendants were also ordered to promptly return to the PRC after serving their sentence.  

The defendants were among 12 PRC nationals and two U.S. citizen crew members rescued by U.S. Navy helicopters during an attempted illegal transit from Saipan to Guam in July of 2023.  Their boat, overloaded and poorly equipped for rough seas, ran out of fuel near the island of Rota and drifted for more than 14 hours before the crew radioed a distress call.  During the sentencing hearing, both defendants expressed deep regret for getting on the boat, and one recalled fearing that the boat would capsize “under dark skies and big waves.”  He thought they would all die and thanked the U.S. government for rescuing them even though they broke the law.

“Our federal and local partners will continue to target unlawful travel between the CNMI and Guam,” stated United States Attorney Anderson.  “This activity is an abuse of the CNMI parole program.  It also creates substantial risk to those involved in these voyages, in addition to the rescuers.”

“Those who seek to undermine the rule of law, and in the process endanger the lives of their victims for the sake of profit, will be held accountable,” said Lucia Cabral-DeArmas, Acting Special Agent in Charge for HSI Honolulu. “It’s fortunate no lives were lost, and HSI will continue to exercise our investigative expertise to protect human rights.”

The rescue was a coordinated effort by the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Navy, with assistance from allied military personnel and resources.

This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, with assistance from the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Department of Public Safety-Rota. 

Assistant United States Attorney Eric S. O’Malley from the District of the Northern Mariana Islands prosecuted the case.

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