AG supports designating Guam as High Intensity Drug Trafficking - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

AG supports designating Guam as High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area

Posted: May 11, 2018 4:50 PM Updated:

In light of an increasing amount of drugs trafficked into Guam, law enforcement officials met with leaders visiting from the U.S. Department of Justice about a program that could put Guam on the map as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.

The headlines have been showing the problem: multiple drug arrests including recent incidents of cocaine washing up on Guam's shores. "You wake up every morning, you know it's not just something you suspect, we have a drug problem on Guam," said Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson, Guam's attorney general. "And it's not just a drug problem with what we are using, but the distribution chain, as well."

Barrett-Anderson says drug charges are the second highest number of cases investigated in her office. Which is why she supports the idea of petitioning Guam for a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Designation. As part of the HIDTA program, all of Guam's law enforcement would have access to federal funds to combat illegal drugs and trafficking

"There is big money according to the director in other areas of the federal government congressional funding has dipped but when it comes to drugs it continues to go up and up and up," she said.

The Attorney General notes that federal officials say Guam meets criteria; it's just a matter of applying.

According to Anderson federal grants under HIDTA can't go to hire more personnel, but it can help front the costs such as overtime. Paying extra hours worked by GPD's Mandana Drug Task Force, adding her office, and other law enforcement could use the boost.

"I'll look for training for our investigators, I'll look for training for our prosecutors, I'd certainly look for equipment for computers so we can tie into HIDTA communications system," she said optimistically.

She says the meeting was educational, and though no decisions were made, the AG's office is ready to move forward with a petition. "I'll do the legwork; I'm going to get the petition prepared by my office and I'd love the governor of Guam to join me, we can have a joint signature on the petition," he stated.

She added that she's hopeful to hear updates in the next 90 days, so that HIDTA designation could be granted to Guam as early as next year.

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