Lawmaker wants NMI designated as high intensity drug trafficking area


A local lawmaker wants to designate the NMI as a high intensity drug trafficking area in a letter submitted to a federal office under the White House.

In a letter dated June 8, 2018, Senate President Arnold I. Palacios (R-Saipan) requested to director Michael Botticelli of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, under the White House, to designate the NMI as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, or HIDTA.

Palacios noted that HIDTA designation would allow for greater cooperation and sharing of information between local law enforcement and other agencies, including federal agencies.

“I am optimistic that with the continued collaboration amongst our local, regional, and federal agencies that we can combat this growing threat of drug trafficking and abuse in the CNMI,” he wrote.

Palacios recognized that being 8,000 miles from the mainland U.S., the NMI remains to be one of the last remaining regions without HIDTA designation despite the international coastal access and close proximity to several foreign countries such as China, the Philippines, Japan, and Hong Kong.

“Methamphetamine [ice] use and trafficking are serious threats to the islands, resulting in increased criminal activity and addiction. On behalf of our community, our legislators are committed to combating the ongoing concerns and related issues connected to this growing threat,” he wrote.

The HIDTA program was created by the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988. The program provides assistance to federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies operating in areas that are designated as a HIDTA.

According to the Drug Enforcement Agency website, there are currently 28 HIDTAs, which include about 18 percent of all counties in the U.S. and 66 percent of the U.S. population. All 28 HIDTA designations are located across all states, including Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia. Alaska only recently received their HIDTA designation last May.

MD: Lawmaker wants NMI to be designated as high intensity drug trafficking area.

KW: Senate President Arnold Palacios, DEA, ice, White House.

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.

Related Posts

Disclaimer: Comments are moderated. They will not appear immediately or even on the same day. Comments should be related to the topic. Off-topic comments would be deleted. Profanities are not allowed. Comments that are potentially libelous, inflammatory, or slanderous would be deleted.