Chinese Meth Dealer Admits Ties to Imperial Pacific International

Posted on: October 25, 2023, 07:43h. 

Last updated on: October 25, 2023, 11:46h.

If one man’s account of his involvement with Imperial Pacific International (IPI) is accurate, the company behind Saipan’s failed Imperial Palace casino was willing to work with anyone if it would attract gamblers. A report by The Guam Daily Post cites a drug dealer who claims that IPI invited him to work with the casino as a junket operator.

The Imperial Palace casino in Saipan under construction
The Imperial Palace casino while under construction in Saipan. Imperial Pacific International reportedly once invited a man who would later become a drug dealer to work as a junket operator (Image: Pacific Daily News)

Liang Yang, a Chinese national, is on trial in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) for trafficking in liquid methamphetamine. While on the stand, his relationship with IPI surfaced.

He reportedly received an offer to set up shop in Saipan and deliver VIPs to the Imperial Palace. This was allegedly around 2017, with Yang making five trips to the CNMI between then and January 2019. A year later, the casino closed.

Hot Lava in Saipan

Yang’s relationship with the CNMI court system began on September 23. That was when a regular customs inspection found 10 pounds of liquid meth hidden in four lava lamps that arrived via mail.

Soon after, an investigation led to Yang and an accomplice, only identified as “BT.” The latter is apparently a known drug trafficker, and Yang admitted that he agreed to accept the lava lamps on his behalf. BT is still in hiding, successfully avoiding capture.

Yang’s arrest led to a laundry list of crimes, including his involvement with IPI, as prosecutors built their case against him. It’s unclear how he and IPI arrived at their arrangement. But Yang asserted that IPI “invited” him to Saipan in order to recruit VIP gamblers to the casino. That seemingly indicates that someone at IPI knew him while he was still in China.

That plan might have been what IPI offered, but Yang’s account indicates that he branched out into other areas, as well. He reportedly received a driver’s license, despite being in Saipan illegally, and began operating his own tourist shuttle service.

Now standing trial for drug trafficking, Yang entered a not-guilty plea last week. He will return to court for a trial by jury beginning on December 5.

IPI Still Not Paying Bills

IPI has had nothing but trouble in Saipan, and hasn’t been able to bring the Imperial Palace resort to life. Things have continued to get worse, as bills and fines pile up and no money seems to be coming in.

The company, which just announced executive changes, owes tens of millions of dollars to the CNMI government and private entities. One of the many court orders it has ignored was for a payment to Kan Pacific Saipan, and its refusal to pay up is going to deliver another blow to Imperial Palace.

IPI entered Saipan on a whirlwind of promises, including an agreement to buy out Kan Pacific so it could have exclusive control over gambling in the area. The two reached a payment agreement, which IPI fulfilled the first year. After that, no more money came through.

Kan Pacific filed a petition with the court to seize Imperial Palace assets to cover the $697,801 debt. A judge has now greenlit the request, with the company able to seize and sell anything and everything to recuperate the lost funds.

This is just one of many orders IPI has faced that have led to asset forfeitures. As such, by the time all of the court orders are fulfilled, there won’t be anything left at Imperial Palace that resembles a casino.