Chris Barnett and five other Guam senators introduced legislation that would set a mandatory prison sentence of at least 25 years for people convicted of trafficking large quantities of methamphetamine and fentanyl in Guam.
Bill No. 239-37, introduced in the Guam Legislature today, also punishes repeat offenders with 30 years to life. This bill removes leniency opportunities like the Justice Safety Valve Act for those charged with quantities laid out in the proposed legislation, according to a news release from Mr. Barnett’s office.
The proposed increase to the limit on fines is $5 million. Businesses involved in the importation and distribution of these drugs will face a $25 million fine.
This also means that – if passed into law – if a person is arrested for conspiracy to distribute more than 49 grams of methamphetamine or 400 or more grams of mixtures containing Fentanyl, that criminal defendant will need to fight and win his or her case at trial to avoid spending at least 25 years in prison. This is because the mandatory floor proposed in this bill will prevent plea agreements, where prosecutors can negotiate below the floor. If a criminal defendant is caught and pleads out, he or she will spend at least 25 years in prison.
“Expecting our people to just sit back and accept the damage crystal meth has done to Guam and our people cannot be GovGuam’s policy, but it seems like it is,” Mr. Barnett said. “By refusing to do more, we are normalizing this bad behavior and basically telling the drug dealers they can keep getting away with it. Our people are demanding action on meth and one way we can deliver it is by standing up and sending a strong message to the dealers. The crystal meth epidemic and the crime related to it continue to worsen. The meth kingpins on our island are way too comfortable and operate in the brightness of day, often flaunting their connections to some of the most powerful officials on island. They have gotten rich by poisoning our people. Enough is enough already. All leaders must take a stand against meth now. While I celebrate the hard work of law enforcement and our public safety family, it’s clear we need to do more to support their efforts by agreeing we need to lock up the bad guys for a long time – longer than we are now.”
“Not a day goes by when we don’t hear about meth and the crime caused by it. We see murders, rapes and robberies. Meth is tearing our families apart and a whole generation of our island’s children struggles to grow under its shadow. The cost of meth is at an all-time low because the supply of it on island is at an all-time high, even though we are seeing record seizure amounts. Meanwhile, dealers get rich and get away with it – and when they do get caught, it’s more like a tilek on the ear than a slap on the wrist. A drug dealer was recently sentenced to six years in prison for possession of 62 grams of methamphetamine,” said Senator Barnett. “If this bill were law, the offender would have to plead to 25 years or run the risk of spending the rest of his life in prison. That seems like a more appropriate punishment for those who deal drugs and wreak havoc on our island and our families.”
The other five sponsors of the bill are Jesse A. Lujan, Joanne M. Brown, Sabina F. Perez, Dwayne T.D. San Nicolas, and Telo T. Taitague.
Guam has been in the throes of what some term a meth epidemic since the early 1990s. Arrests and treatment data over the recent years also show an uptick in the abuse of opiates, including heroin. One of Fentanyl’s street names, according to the National Drug Intelligence Center, is Hillbilly Heroin.
“I’m worried that we see a growing number of addicts using opiates, and we know fentanyl has arrived on Guam. That’s why I included fentanyl in the bill. I don’t want to wait until it’s too late – like we did with meth,” Barnett said.