Guam struggles to contain increase in drug smuggling
The war on drugs has been a decades-old battle, not just in the mainland United States, but even in Guam. Federal governments led the campaign with the intent of reducing the illegal drug trade in certain countries. While Guam has made tremendous efforts for the campaign, there is still an influx of illegal drugs appearing at Guam’s borders.
In 2021, the Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency reported a spike in drug-smuggling attempts, with around 195 pounds of methamphetamine and 174 pounds of marijuana being seized in foiled drug-smuggling attempts. These seized amounts are much larger than the amounts seized in 2020 when 110 pounds of methamphetamine and 63.2 pounds of marijuana were seized.
While Guam Customs continues to combat the influx of drug smuggling with limited resources, the agency would be able to continue its work and catch smugglers at increased rates if they were to be allotted a bigger budget. As such, Guam Customs Director Ike Peredo has presented a $17 million budget request for the 2023 fiscal year to hire 20 Customs trainees, fill 10 vacancies, train eight new canine handlers, and obtain a new mobile X-ray scanner and handheld X-ray scanner with their upcoming budget.
In addition, as Guam sees an influx of drug-related interdictions, crews from Japan and US coast guards collaborated on a joint counter-narcotics exercise off the coast of Guam on June 7. The US Indo-Pacific Command reported that this was the first operational exchange between the US Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam and the Japan Coast Guard and was designed to promote cooperation between the partners in areas of mutual interest. “Conducting exercises based on real-world threats strengthens our combined readiness to respond more effectively,” said Lt. Jack Hamel, commanding officer of the Oliver Henry, the US Coast Guard Cutter that sent crews for this exercise.