Customs details how crafty drug smugglers are getting - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Customs details how crafty drug smugglers are getting

Posted: Apr 17, 2018 5:37 PM Updated:

Too much drugs, and not enough Customs officers - this was the sentiment at the Guam Legislature this afternoon. In the hot seat: the Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency. During the informational briefing, the agency details just how crafty smugglers are getting.

How do drugs get into the island? "The primary mode of smuggling at this point, that we're aware of, is through the Post Office," explained Guam Customs and Quarantine Colonel Philip Taijeron laying it out for lawmakers during an info briefing on Tuesday. "Last month we were told that ten pounds had come through, come through the Post Office, not in one occasion, but multiple shipments," he said.

But, that's not all, as Taijeron said, "People are smuggling stuff, not through the line, but through what we call internal conspirators - people who perform functions to remove articles out of bags and hand carry it straight out the back gate. Why go through the front when I can just fool Customs through the rear?"

Part of the problem? Current personnel at Guam Customs - 109. Ideally, they'd need double that to get their job done right. "When we have a higher concentration of people and we're able to move them, the smuggler has to guess where we're going to be. Apparently, they don't have to guess. They know, well they're definitely not back here," he said.

Another problem? Smugglers are getting creative.

Customs director James McDonald says they have to start thinking outside the box - quite literally. "We want you guys to understand that it's not just the regular bags. Not just the regular cargo, these guys are being very creative, and we need to protect our people out there," he said.  "Some other avenues that I wanted to mention also that we're seeing is small boats coming in from neighboring islands. Smuggling in drugs into Guam. Those are one of the gaps that we need to close in on," he stated.

"Another thing that we're having problem with at the airport is internal smuggling through the cavity. That's becoming very common with us - human carriers coming through the airport," he qualified.

McDonald details a recent incident at the airport, involving a smuggler in a wheelchair, saying, "Our dog just happened to be around there and he sniffs one pound of meth on the cushion of this individual that is sitting on a wheelchair. Then after that we get information from the DEA, hey guys, you guys need to start checking the corpse, the caskets coming in. So you see, we have to start being more creative now."

The supply and demand high - no doubt about that. And part of their justification to increase service fees in order to hire more officers, among their other needs. "When a pound of drugs passes through our borders, the domino effect it has on the community and the cost is astronomical. That's why we're down here," he said.

To improve services, including additional manpower, Customs proposes increasing their airports service fee from $8.29 to just over $18.

As for maritime and air cargo, Customs' initial rates are $5 for every .0012. Their proposal would be to increase that to .0021, or about one cent on your can of Spam.

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