Advocates of drug use prevention face new threat

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The Joey and Friends for Recovery group that advocates for drug rehabilitation and drug use prevention is now working on ways to put methamphetamine or “ice” labs out of business through lessening the island’s demand for ice.

During the Rotary Club of Saipan weekly meeting on Tuesday, Joey Arriola of Joey and Friends for Recovery talked about the organization’s current schedule and what they are doing in advocating against illegal drug use and rehabilitation.

Arriola, a recovered drug addict who spent 58 months in prison for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud, said the distribution of methamphetamine has only gotten worse in the CNMI, comparing the substance to rice because it can be bought nearly everywhere.

With the recent discovery that “ice” is being manufactured in the CNMI, Arriola and his co-advocates have already started exploring ways to counter-attack this new threat in hopes of stopping the creation of more laboratories in the CNMI.

“What fuels this manufacture is the demand, so if we can lessen the demand, we can cure the problem. It’s going to be hard, but I know it can be done…That is something our group will be exploring now, finding a different approach. It tells us for sure that we need to up the ante and we need to do more and we know that we can conquer this,” he said.

According to Arriola, if advocates like him have been spreading awareness of prevention and rehabilitation before, now is the time to push the cause even more.

“We need to increase the level of awareness; we need to increase the level of prevention because that’s what we have to contend with…The penetration in the community is a lot more than we thought so we need to be more vigilant,” he said.

Arriola said that advocates alone will not be able to stop the threat of more meth laboratories springing up in the CNMI. It must be a collaborative effort involving the community.

“There is a lot of work ahead but this is the time that we need to step up, not just us in the non-profit organization but the entire community. Let’s partner up because it will only benefit our island,” he said.

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents and CNMI Drug Enforcement Task Force and Customs officers discovered the two clandestine methamphetamine or “ice” laboratories over the weekend in a house in Dandan and a room at the Saipan Vegas Resort.

Kimberly Bautista | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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