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CNMI Police Anti-Drug Operations Lack Funding
Commissioner says no local budget for anti-drug actions

By Ferdie de la Torre

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Jan. 31, 2013) – The main problem facing the Department of Public Safety's (DPS) drug enforcement is funding, according to acting Northern Marianas DPS commissioner Sgt. James C. Deleon Guerrero.

Deleon Guerrero, in an interview with Saipan Tribune last week, said they need funding to pay informants and to buy drugs as evidence during sting operations.

At the moment, Deleon Guerrero said, there is no local budget that specifically affords such kind of drug operations.

"A lot of the money that comes in is from the federal funding," he added.

The acting commissioner said there are two drug task forces operating in the Commonwealth: the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands level's Drug Enforcement Task Force that is composed of DPS, Customs, and Office of the Attorney General. Some police officers are assigned to both task forces.

When asked how DPS maintains its relationship with DEA under his term, Deleon Guerrero said he does not see any problems working with federal and other CNMI government enforcement agencies.

He said he has been blessed with the opportunity early on in his police career working on a multidisciplinary approach.

"What I mean by this is that I was one of the few officers that worked with a number of different government agencies that got operations of MOU's [Memorandum of Understanding) or agreements that created task forces," he said.

In 2010, a joint Tinian police and DEA operation that resulted in the arrest of a police officer and two other men for "ice" trafficking upset DPS deputy commissioner Ambrosio Ogumoro, who accused DEA of credit-grabbing.

Deleon Guerrero said dealing with DEA or other agencies is more of setting up meetings and seeing how they can come up with common solutions to common problems and work from there.

"I will not micromanage. I would like to work at things in its totality and ask the hard questions and look at how we can best benefit our interest in terms of enforcing the law," he added.

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