A female canine handler led the eight graduates of the CNMI Customs Service’s 8th cycle academy who were sworn in yesterday at the Pacific Islands Club Saipan’s Charley’s Cabaret.
Inspector Maelyn Matilde Cabrera Naputi completed 14 weeks of training to become the first female detector dog handler in the nearly 20-year existence of the CNMI Customs Detector Dog Program.
Naputi is no stranger to Customs, as she graduated under Customs’ 7th cycle academy last year. She was assigned to Custom’s Special Enforcement Branch as part of the X-Ray unit, and she was tasked with the responsibility of detecting contraband or dutiable items using X-ray machines at the CNMI’s ports of entry.
“[The experience] was fun and challenging, but [Customs] made it easy for me and they really helped me through, and although it may not be easy, it was worth the try,” said Naputi, 22, about joining the Detector Dog Program.
Naputi joined the CNMI Customs Service after graduating from Kagman High School in 2015.
The other graduates yesterday are Rolly Jose Bugarin, Anesta David, Rayleen Cabrera, Vincent Sablan, Kenneth Untalan, Leeroy Atalig Jr., and Owen Tagabuel.
Although this 8th cycle holds the smallest class to date, Customs director Jose Mafnas said the division has never faced any shortages of staff. “This is the smallest cycle that we have had since we started our academy, but we are never short of manpower, with an adequate number of officers and equipment to protect [the CNMI’s] borders,” Mafnas said.
Mafnas assured that Customs will continue to check all products that enter CNMI soil and protect the CNMI borders.
Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios and Department of Finance Secretary David Atalig, who both attended yesterday’s graduation, congratulated the cadets for completing the training and applauded their dedication, with hope that they will continue to protect the CNMI’s borders from smuggled products and punishing those who avoid and “cheat” the excise tax system.
Attorney General Edward Manibusan highlighted the importance of adding manpower to CNMI Customs as they are sworn not just to protect the borders but also to make sure that no illegal activities occur in the CNMI.