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Northern Mariana Islands Drug Threat Assessment

Northern Mariana Islands Drug Threat Assessment.Publication Date: October 2003

Document ID: 2003-S0388MP-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 to the Northern Mariana Islands. 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 to the Northern Mariana Islands.

Your questions, comments, and suggestions for future subjects are welcome at any time.  Addresses are provided at the end of the page.
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Executive Summary

 Fast Facts





Other Dangerous Drugs



List of Figures 

Figure 1. Size comparison of a penny and a plate.
Figure 2. Methamphetamine transportation to the Northern Mariana Islands from Asia.
Figure 3. Methamphetamine movement from California to Hawaii to the Northern Mariana Islands.
Figure 4. Marijuana transportation from the Philippines and Palau to the Northern Mariana Islands.


List of Tables 

Table 1. Percentage of Methamphetamine-Related Federal Drug Sentences, CNMI and United States, FY1997-FY2001


Executive Summary

Illicit drugs are smuggled into the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) for local distribution. Law enforcement officials report that illicit drugs, particularly crystal methamphetamine, are smuggled from Asia, Hawaii, and the U.S. mainland to the islands. Cannabis continues to be cultivated locally in small quantities, but most marijuana is smuggled from neighboring countries. Drugs smuggled into the Northern Mariana Islands often are transported via couriers aboard commercial aircraft and in air cargo. Individuals in the CNMI also use maritime vessels and package delivery services to smuggle small quantities of illicit drugs into the CNMI for their personal use.

Methamphetamine, specifically crystal methamphetamine, poses a significant drug threat to the CNMI. Local authorities report that the distribution and abuse of crystal methamphetamine increased notably during the 1990s. In recent years purity levels have remained constant as prices have dropped--an indicator of rising availability. Crystal methamphetamine typically is transported into the CNMI from Asian countries, often transiting the Philippines and Guam. Various ethnic criminal groups--Chamorro, Chinese, Filipino, and Japanese--and residents of CNMI distribute crystal methamphetamine in the CNMI. Potential violence related to the distribution of crystal methamphetamine is a concern, particularly as organized criminal groups that distribute the drug become more entrenched.

Marijuana is readily available and commonly abused in the CNMI. The marijuana available in the CNMI typically is smuggled from sources in the Philippines or the Republic of Palau. Some is produced locally; however, local production decreased from 2000 to 2001 as a result of law enforcement efforts.

The availability and abuse of heroin are limited in the CNMI. The small amounts of Southeast Asian heroin that are available typically are consumed by tourists, not residents.

Historically the availability of cocaine in the CNMI has been minimal, and abuse is limited. Typically the small quantities of cocaine available in the CNMI are smuggled onto the islands by individual abusers. Although little is known about the individuals or groups involved in transporting or distributing cocaine in the CNMI, law enforcement officials suspect that Mexican criminal groups that distribute methamphetamine on the U.S. West Coast are involved.

Other dangerous drugs (ODDs) such as inhalants, MDMA, LSD, and diverted pharmaceuticals pose a very small threat to the CNMI. In 1999 law enforcement officers reported the first known incident of MDMA abuse and conducted their first LSD investigation. Inhalants pose a greater threat to young people in the CNMI than any other ODD; however, law enforcement authorities expect the threat posed by MDMA and LSD to surpass the threat posed by inhalants. Law enforcement authorities in the CNMI are attempting to minimize the threat from diverted prescription drugs by increasing their efforts to prohibit Chinese-labeled pharmaceuticals (most of which have been illegally obtained) from entering the commonwealth. 


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