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Customs combats crystal meth

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by Mindy Aguon

Guam - Crime on Guam is on the rise and law enforcement officials are constantly combating the war on drugs. Customs and Quarantine Agency officers are stepping up efforts to stop illegal drugs from making it out to the streets. 

In 2013 Customs officers confiscated more than $15 million worth of crystal methamphetamine preventing the drugs from hitting the streets of the island. "Customs has seen an increase in the amount of seizures that we have discovered of illegal substances, illegal drugs at the various ports of entry," explained Customs spokesperson Johnric Mendiola.

The agency is mandated to protect Guam's ports of entry and ensure contraband and illegal drugs don't make it in.  Officers are located not just at the Guam International Airport Authority and the Air Cargo Facility, but the Commercial Port, the Agat and Hagatna Marinas, the Guam Main Facility post office and Andersen Air Force Base.  Mendiola says as officers have been more vigilant, criminals have gotten more creative with trying to hide the drugs they're trying to bring in, noting, "Guam is not immune to the different types of concealment that is being used worldwide so we are doing our very best to keep up with the smuggling trends and to pass that information to our officers so that it can be used in our interdiction and detection inspections."

In recent months crystal meth and marijuana have been hidden in broomsticks, cakes, candles, stereo speakers, t-shirts, and candy just to name a few.  Mendiola says the 20 recent graduates have had a tremendous impact on operations and the seizure of more drugs but law enforcement personnel know that a significant amount of drugs are still finding their way onto the streets.  That couldn't be more evident than the going rate for a gram of crystal meth.

He added. "Based on the amount of illegal substances that are coming in the price on the street for methamphetamine in particular has fallen from $800 a gram a couple of years ago to reports of a gram selling between $350-$500 a gram."

The more readily available drugs are, the cheaper they are.  The more difficult, the more expensive. Customs has been working with their local and federal counterparts and doing all they can to ensure the island is safe but Mendiola says they can't do it without help from the community. "Wwe ask the community that if they have any information about contraband, drug smuggling into Guam that they can contact Customs officers at 642-8071/72 - that number is manned 24 hours a day," said Mendiola.

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