Meth has spread to community that once dealt only with alcoholism. What will it take to stop drugs at the borders?

RAID: Guam law enforcement officers join agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration to conduct a raid at a wood-and-tin house adjacent to Astumbo Middle School in Astumbo, Dededo in 2018. Post file photo

It wasn't too long ago that our fellow community members from the Federated States of Micronesia were dealing primarily with problems associated with alcohol abuse.

But street-level arrests and cases in the Superior Court of Guam beginning sometime last year and continuing this year have shown a more worrisome trend: Methamphetamine abuse is growing among members of our FSM community on Guam.

This concern has become so evident that Guam Police Chief Stephen Ignacio had a meeting a few days ago with FSM Consul Theresa Filippin to discuss this issue.

"We're going back out to these different clusters of (FSM neighborhoods) and trying to reengage them. ... Maybe we can go door-to-door and pass out some informational pamphlets on anti-bullying, drug prevention and just give some tips to parents on what they can look for that may be signs that they need to be aware of," the police chief said. 

Guam's meth problem, in general, has persisted, the police chief said. And our community continues to be under siege by the continued flow of methamphetamine into the island, mostly by air-flown mail and by sea shipments.

It's evident that the meth supply continues to flow into our streets because of the volume of arrests which are a testament to the hard work of police patrol officers. In the past few months alone between October and November 2020, there were around 300 meth-related street arrests, the police chief said.

Another indicator that there is an ample supply of meth on our island is the decreasing prices at the street level.

The police chief mentioned that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's latest drug threat assessment for Guam stated that the price of meth at the street level on Guam has dropped to around $150 a gram.

That's a multifold decrease from $1,000 in 1999 to as low as $250 to $500 in 2001, according to previous DEA data on street-level prices of meth, per gram, on Guam.

The Guam Police Department's patrol officers have done a proactive job of busting meth possession during traffic stops flagged by initial violations such as expired license plate tags, a broken tail light, or other visible traffic infractions.

"We have a lot of hardworking patrol officers who actually go out there," Ignacio said, and bust street-level drug users and sellers.

What GPD needs help with and what our community needs to see is a more aggressive effort to stop the continued importation of methamphetamine and other hard illegal drugs into the island through the airport and seaport. In other words, efforts should increase to catch the big fish in Guam's illegal drug trade.

There have also been early signs of Fentanyl abuse on Guam and GPD is keeping an eye out to try and nip that in the bud as well.

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken most of the focus of our local government, spreading thin those resources that also must focus on stopping the flow of illegal drugs.

The continued flood of hard-core drugs, primarily meth on the streets on our island, has been a greater, graver concern for decades now.

GPD's patrols and other investigations can only do so much.

What will it take for the major drug importers who are destroying Guam with this poison to be caught?

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