CNMI Customs: New X-ray Machines To Improve NMI Border Management

Department of public safety also unveils dog-patrol program to bolster patrol capacity, particularly anti-narcotics

By Junhan B. Todiño

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, August 04, 2016) – With its newly acquired x-ray machines, the Division of Customs Services will be able to reduce the number of hours required to inspect newly arrived goods on Saipan, Customs Director Joe Mafnas said on Wednesday.

“Without the aid of x-ray equipment, searching for contraband or undeclared goods in a 24-foot container can take hours and hours, even a day or more,” he said during a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the x-ray machines at the customs office in Lower Base.

He said in any customs jurisdiction x-ray equipment is a critical tool in border management.

Aside from facilitating the processing of passengers in the arrival area at the airport, the x-ray machines are also effective in penetrating even metal to find contraband, he added.

One of the two new x-ray machines will be used at the seaport while the other will be installed at the airport.

The ceremony was attended by Gov. Ralph Torres, Lt. Gov. Victor Hocog, Department of Public Safety Commissioner Robert A. Guerrero, Attorney General Ed Manibusan, Marianas Visitors Authority Managing Director Chris Concepcion, Finance Secretary Larissa Larson, Speaker Ralph Demapan, Senate Vice President Arnold Palacios, Department of Lands and Natural Resources Secretary Richard Seman, Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality Administrator Frank Rabauliman, Rep. John Paul Sablan and House Floor Leader George N. Camacho.

Mafnas thanked the late Gov. Eloy Inos and Governor Torres, who was the lt. governor when funding for the purchase of the machines was approved.

Mafnas also thanked then-Senate President Victor Hocog, now the lt. governor, and Senate Vice President Arnold Palacios for taking the lead in appropriating the funds for the acquisition of the x-ray equipment.

Governor Torres thanked former MVA Managing Director Perry Tenonio for giving full support to Customs.

“I know Chris [Conception] also vowed to give support as long as it deals with tourism,” the governor said.

The $530,000 appropriated for the x-ray machines was taken from the $2.53 million that was supposedly earmarked for MVA.

In his remarks, Governor Torres said customs officers now have the tools and resources to work more efficiently.

“I urge that you do your work cautiously because you have to work closely with the attorney general, and I know technical issues are very critical,” he said as he congratulated Mafnas for his leadership.

The ceremony included a presentation of detector-dog specialists Miguel T. Magofna Jr. and Mark Joseph G. Palacios.

Mafnas said the detector-dog specialists completed 12 weeks of training as Workforce Investment Agency participants.

Finance Secretary Larissa Larson said the x-ray machines and the detector dogs are key components when it comes to the tasks that customs performs for the CNMI.

“We need to continue focusing on and dedicating resources in this area,” she added.

“I’ve always said that the key to economic prosperity aside from the investments we have coming in is compliance and enforcement,” Larson said.

She thanked all of customs’ partners in law enforcement for their support, adding that these departments have successfully deterred a lot of crimes and criminal elements from entering the commonwealth.

Department of Public Safety Commissioner Robert A. Guerrero then presented patrol-dog handlers officer Anthnoy D.L.G. Alepuyo and Officer Buddy S. Igitol who showed how they can catch criminal elements using patrol dogs.

The DPS commissioner said their dog-patrol program includes K-9s that are trained to detect narcotics.

“These dogs will augment the patrols and you will be seeing them out in the street to assist patrol units,” he added.

The dogs are “great assets” to DPS, he said, adding that the program is in line with the administration’s campaign against illegal drugs in the CNMI.

Marianas Variety
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