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American Samoa Drug Threat Assessment
Publication Date: June 2001
Document ID: 2001-S0388AS-001
Archived on: January 1, 2006. This document may contain dated information. It remains available to provide access to historical materials.
This report is a strategic assessment that addresses the status and outlook of the drug threat in American Samoa. Analytical judgment determined the threat posed by each drug type or category, taking into account the most current quantitative and qualitative information on availability, demand, production or cultivation, transportation, and distribution, as well as the effects of a particular drug on abusers and society as a whole. While NDIC sought to incorporate the latest available information, a time lag often exists between collection and publication of data, particularly demand-related data sets. NDIC anticipates that this drug threat assessment will be useful to policymakers, law enforcement personnel, and treatment providers at the federal, state, and local levels because it draws upon a broad range of information sources to describe and analyze the drug threat in American Samoa.
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Other Dangerous Drugs
List of Tables
Table 1. American Samoa and U.S. Students Reporting Drug Use in 1997 (By Percent of Students Surveyed)
List of Figures
Figure 1. Methamphetamine Smuggling Route
Figure 2. Marijuana Smuggling Route
The two drugs of concern in American Samoa, and the only two for which substantive information exists, are methamphetamine and marijuana. Quantifying the drug threat in American Samoa is difficult. Until 2000, the territory did not collect or store drug-related data; therefore, much of the information in this report is based on anecdotal reporting. Methamphetamine has recently supplanted marijuana as the most serious drug threat in American Samoa. Local law enforcement authorities point to rising methamphetamine abuse as the cause for a rise in violent crime in the territory.
Powdered methamphetamine use in the territory is limited. Most users prefer to smoke the extremely pure (90 to 100%) crystal form known as "ice," and recent reports indicate that methamphetamine laboratories may be present on the islands.
Drug trafficking organizations and criminal groups often use the mail system and cargo vessels to smuggle drugs to American Samoa. The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) delivers mail in American Samoa. The USPS in Honolulu screens all packages bound for American Samoa from Hawaii before handlers load the packages onto aircraft. Drug trafficking organizations also use cargo vessels to smuggle marijuana from Samoa to American Samoa. The Government of American Samoa is responsible for its own customs and immigration enforcement.
The American Samoa legislature passed laws in 1999 making the possession of even small amounts of illegal drugs punishable by long jail terms with no possibility of parole. News reports widely publicize the sentences given offenders. This publicity is part of a concerted effort on the part of local authorities to combat an alarming increase in drug trafficking and use.
Intelligence gaps concerning the drug threat are numerous and extensive in American Samoa, which has begun only recently to computerize local records. Officials do not have a central repository for drug-related data. While American Samoan authorities recognize the growing threat that illegal drugs pose in the territory, many express frustration at the perceived lack of attention paid to the islands by federal authorities. Recent visits to the island by officials of the U.S. Department of Justice have provided encouraging signs to local authorities.
In most cases, national databases such as the Treatment Episode Data Set, the Drug Abuse Warning Network, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance and Monitoring the Future do not include population surveys of American Samoa. The territory is given only cursory mention, which makes quantification of the drug threat difficult.
National Drug Intelligence Center
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National Drug Intelligence Center
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