Guam Police Looks To 'Reignite Island's War' Against Methamphetamine

Major seizure of ice leads to renewed efforts at community policing

By Jasmine Stole

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Nov. 23, 2016) – Local police are looking to reignite the island's War on Ice, in what the police chief described as a proactive effort to protect the community.

Last week, 18 pounds of the drug methamphetamine, or “ice,” were seized by federal authorities from a package mailed to Guam. This is enough of an indication for the Guam Police Department to revisit the War on Ice, said GPD Chief Joseph I. Cruz.

“The quantitative data is showing us that more and more, these individuals who are dealing this drug are trying to bring more of it to our island," Cruz said at a press conference Wednesday. "We need to also ... aggressively get in front of it."

GPD will revisit strategies used in the last War on Ice, from the 1990s, and speak with community partners to find out the best way to move forward with this new War on Ice, Cruz said.

The police chief said GPD is looking to reach out to partners in the private sector and residents alike and create watch communities in villages and business districts as a strategy for the new War on Ice.

Cruz said there’s been a downward trend in how much methamphetamine is imported and how much of the drug is used on island. “The amount of crystal methamphetamine that we saw in the 1990s that was being brought to our shores, that has come down,” Cruz said. “The number of arrests have gone up. The usage has definitely come down.”

On a scale of one to 10, 10 being the worst, Cruz rated Guam’s “ice” problem at a level four.

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Drug Enforcement Administration, in previous annual reports, has cited meth as Guam’s drug of choice and stated it poses the greatest threat.

California, Hawaii, the Philippines and other Asian countries are major sources for the “ice” that comes to Guam, according to DEA’s 2015 National Drug Threat Assessment Summary.

Asian nationals smuggle the drug to the island through couriers and Guamanians in the mainland often mail it to family members on Guam to sell for increased profits, according to the DEA.

In 2014, about 19 pounds of meth was seized by DEA, U.S. Postal Service and Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency, the DEA summary states.

To gauge the new War on Ice program's effectiveness, GPD will look to its crime statistics, the police chief said.

“Are we seeing the number of arrests go down? Are we seeing the number of family violence calls and arrests go down? Are the number of robberies and burglaries (decreasing?),” he said. “A predominance of those crimes being committed in our community stem from this evil, from that root problem of drugs in our community.”

About 60 percent to 70 percent of property crimes and crimes against people are related to drug and alcohol abuse, the chief said.

Cruz said he expects to incorporate the War on Ice into an enduring program, and it will not be a short-term program.

DEA estimates local street value of “ice” ranges from $350 to $800 for a gram. The 18 pounds of meth seized last week were worth between $4.6 million and about $5.4 million, Cruz said.

A man, Vincent Rios, was charged in federal court in connection with last week's seizure.

Pacific Daily News
Copyright © 2016 Guam Pacific Daily News. All Rights Reserved

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Comments

This evil drug must be wiped off from the world. While police,drug law enforcement, customs and other agencies are already doing their level best, some world body(United Nations/NATO)type, agency may be formed to tackle at source the manufacturing units. In today's extreme viotile world, we don't need an additional threat to the already existing crimes.

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