SAIPAN – The CNMI Division of Customs now has a portable X-ray scanner costing $50,000 that can detect anything stashed in a box, a piece of baggage or even in liquids such as paint.
The handheld “Z Backscatter” imaging system can detect illegal drugs hidden in liquid, covered with cloth or tucked inside a bag, a box or a wooden crate.
Customs Director Jose Mafnas presented the X-ray scanner to Gov. Ralph Torres and Lt Gov. Victor Hocog with Customs officers Ryan B. Kikku and Jennifer Guerrero demonstrating how it works.
The portable X-ray device was purchased from AS&E in Billerica, Massachusetts and it arrived on island three weeks ago.
Kikku and Guerrero said they will be training for a month prior to using the equipment in their operations.
Mafnas said bigger X-ray units will be arriving on March 25 and were purchased from MedPharm. These, he added, will be installed at the seaport and airport.
Gov. Torres said the new machines will help address the CNMI’s illegal drug problem and curb smuggling activities.
He said his administration is serious in its efforts to track down illegal drugs and prevent smuggling.
“So we are looking for grants that will help us in our fight against ice. We will find more ways to ensure that we get rid of this problem,” he added.
Finance Secretary Larrisa Larson, Customs Capt. JJ Atalig, U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Mihai Leta and Special Assistant for Administration Shirley Ogumoro were also present during the presentation of the new equipment at the governor’s office.