Guam, CNMI Customs Officials Work Together To Prevent Drug Smuggling

Partnership created in response to increase shipments of meth from Asia, U.S.

By John I Borja

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, May 11, 2017) – Customs leaders in the Marianas are working together to help prevent drugs like methamphetamines from being smuggled into the islands.

The directors of Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency and the Customs Service of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands recently met to share issues their agencies are facing, specifically with drug smuggling, according to a news release.

The partnership comes after a perceived increase in meth smuggled from Asia and the U.S., the news release stated.

James T. McDonald, director of Guam’s Customs and Quarantine Agency, said a memorandum of agreement between Guam and the CNMI is in the works. He's collaborating with Jose Mafnas, CNMI customs director, on the agreement.

The agreement aims to provide training opportunities to CNMI customs officers, sharing information on methamphetamine smuggling and developing Guam Customs and Quarantine’s IT system.

Substance abuse also was discussed among regional leaders at the 22nd Micronesian Islands Forum in early May. At the forum, Gov. Eddie Calvo said he noticed a lot of drug-related crimes on Guam in recent years.

Guam Police Department Chief Joseph Cruz said Guam’s law enforcement agencies, including Customs and Quarantine, have been working to provide training and education opportunities to other islands in Micronesia, including the CNMI, Palau and Chuuk.

Need to modernize

Guam also recently hosted the 19th Oceania Customs Organisation Annual Conference, where more than 20 Customs administrations throughout the Pacific came together to share modernization efforts toward border management.

The conference highlighted Guam Customs and Quarantine’s need to update its paper-based system. The agency currently doesn't have an information management system to review information about imports, exports and travel, according to a news release.

Guam Customs and Quarantine plans to modernize by procuring a system through federal funding, the release stated.

Pacific Daily News
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