Ike Peredo returns to Customs with new challenges - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Ike Peredo returns to Customs with new challenges

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Ike Peredo joins the Leon Guerrero-Tenorio cabinet as the head of the Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency. He's a veteran when it comes to protecting Guam's borders.

Same mission, bigger problems.

"When I left the agency, methamphetamine had started to increase, but not at this level. Now, methamphetamine is very prevalent out on the streets," he explained.

Peredo retired as the agency's deputy director and acting chief in 1999. His job is to address cracks in the system.

"A lot of our illicit drugs are coming in through the post office. Drugs are coming in through the post office and one of the priorities that I would like to visit is I would like to review, assess, and make changes on our narcotics interdiction strategy at the points of entry," he said. "When that airplane lands, there's certain things that happen. Passengers are off-loaded. Cargo is off-loaded. They're moved to their respective areas. My concern right now is the movement of cargo out at the ramp areas. We need to gain control of this type of movement because this is where the loophole comes in. This is where cargo diversion takes place. The cargos that are supposed to be moving into the warehouse for proper inspection are probably not reaching the cargo terminal. It'll probably be diverted to other areas."

Part of the problem: too little manpower.

"When I left the agency in 1999, there were 230 officers. I'm coming back to this agency and the strength of this agency now only has 103 officers," Peredo said. "The agency is challenged with a shortage of manpower right now. They're making use of the resources that they have."

The shortage most visible at the airport where there are only 42 officers. Ideally, they'd need double that.

"That means longer lines," he said. "Longer lines and officers need to make a determination on the type of inspection to be conducted. And because of the longer lines, the pressure is there. The officer is working twice as hard."

Under his watch, Peredo plans to embrace technology.

"There's no automatic system to track drug suspects coming into our borders for the officers to use as a tool so they can enhance their knowledge in the interdiction process," he said. "That's my concern. That's one of my priorities."

Though the agency is currently in the process of hiring 29 more officers, that won't be enough. And beefing up manpower won't come cheap. Peredo says he'll be pushing for an increase in the Passenger Inspection Fee, which is currently set at $8.29.

"We need to increase the fee to meet the demands at the airport because right now we're not meeting that demand," Peredo said. "There's a shortage of manpower at the airport. And the only way is to increase the fee."

He'll need a closer look at the budget to know just how much they'd need to hike the fee.

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