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Guam Customs to start new training cycle

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A growing number of drugs and other items being smuggled into the territory has caught the attention of local law and federal law enforcement. Now, Guam Customs is preparing to bring a new batch of officers on board to help protect our borders.  

From the Guam International Airport to the Port Authority, criminals are finding ways to get illegal items including illicit drugs on to the island. Vincent San Nicolas Perez, Guam Customs Chief, said, "There is an influx of many things that back in the 80's and 90's were kind of minimal and now you kind of see its almost a common place."  A growing problem Chief Perez says his officers are monitoring. But, like many government agencies, Guam Customs has its shortfalls.

"If you imagine the work that needs to be done and the amount of enforcement that has happened most especially since September 11, basically we are doing a whole lot more with a whole lot less resources," he shared.

Chief Perez says in the mid to late 1990's his agency had more than double its current manpower. 200 plus officers then...today, 104 of them tasked with protecting our borders. But, change is coming soon for the agency, as the chief said, "We have the 11th Cycle currently in the planning stages and we are hoping to bring them on by January." A plus as he says the last time they brought on new officers was in 2014. Then, about 20 officers graduated and got to work.

"A lot of the times it's a matter of funding and the bureaucratic processes of going through BBMR and DOA, analyzing budgets and making sure requests are put in and I's are dotted and T's are crossed," he said.

This time the agency is hoping to start off the New Year by bringing on 29 new customs officers to begin training. "We will take what we can get and we are hoping to get more. I am hoping in the next few years we could build up to the number that we had because new enforcement protocols and new mandates and more resources to be able to do it is not only going to be a benefit for Customs but the community at large," he said.

The training, he says, could take anywhere from six months to year before the new officers are given their assignments. He stated, "I am just hoping the community understands and supports us to bring Customs officers on. When you are dealing with border enforcement there is a whole lot that goes into it and if you are not aware everything comes in through the borders. So if we close the gaps at the borders then you will find more protection with the community."

Protection against those attempting to break the law at our borders, while the officers control the flow of others items coming and going.

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