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National Drug Intelligence Center
Guam Drug Threat Assessment
Although small--209 square miles--Guam is the largest and southernmost island of the Mariana Islands chain, and it is the westernmost U.S. territory. Guam has been a strategic U.S. military location in the Western Pacific since World War II, and the United States maintains an extensive Air Force and Navy presence on the island.
The territory maintains internal self-rule but participates in the U.S. Government by sending one nonvoting delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives. Residents of Guam have been U.S. citizens since 1950 but are not eligible to vote in federal elections. Guam is under the jurisdiction of the Office of Territorial and International Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior. The capital city is Hagatņa, previously known as Agaņa.
The population on Guam numbers nearly 155,000. Its labor force is composed primarily of immigrants, both legal and illegal, from the Philippines, China, and Korea. The island's culture is a mixture of native Chamorro, Micronesian, American, and Asian. English is the official language in the territory.
The flow of goods and people into Guam presents opportunities for drug smuggling into the territory. Guam imports more than 75 percent of its food and industrial goods from the U.S. mainland. Tourism is a significant source of revenue in the territory. Over the past 20 years the tourist trade has grown rapidly, creating many jobs in the construction industry as the need increased for new hotels and other structures.
The transportation infrastructure on Guam is limited. There are 170 miles of paved roads and nearly 620 miles of unpaved roads. The island has a 77-mile coastline, and Apra Harbor is the major port. There are three airports with paved runways, but the island has no rail system.
Most drugs are transported to Guam through the Guam International Air Terminal; seizures are made from passengers, baggage, and cargo. Couriers transport drugs on their bodies or in their luggage. Other transporters conceal drugs in a variety of ways, for example, in false-bottomed coolers and suitcases, inside frozen fish, intermingled with woodcarvings, and hidden in other airfreight cargo. Limited quantities of drugs are transported to Guam through package delivery services; smuggling via this method is not common because the Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency inspects all mail entering Guam from foreign countries.
The drug problem on Guam continues to evolve. Historically, marijuana was the primary drug available in the territory; however, crystal methamphetamine has become more prominent on Guam over the past decade. Most current drug investigations involve the distribution of crystal methamphetamine from the Philippines, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, and South Korea and marijuana from the Republic of Palau.
In 1999, the most recent year for which these data are available, there were 447 adult drug-related arrests on Guam, compared with 423 in 1998. Also in 1999 there were 45 juvenile drug-related arrests, compared with 43 in 1998. Methamphetamine-related offenses accounted for nearly 75 percent (333) of the adult drug-related arrests in 1999, and marijuana-related offenses accounted for 22 percent (99). Heroin- and cocaine-related offenses combined accounted for less than 1 percent of adult drug-related arrests.
Southeast Asian heroin is transported through Guam to the United States and Canada on vessels used to smuggle illegal aliens. The smuggling of undocumented Chinese aliens through Guam has increased during the past several years. However, information regarding the extent of drug smuggling to and through Guam via maritime vessels is very limited.
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