Former Belau Drug Enforcement Task Force (BDETF) leader Ismael Aguon is back in the police force after President Tommy Remengesau Jr. on May 12 officially appointed him as the Director of the new Narcotics Enforcement Agency (NEA).

In an email, Aguon said  that NEA “means that the fight against drugs has been elevated to a higher urgency and priority that demands full attention and commitment.”

A statement from the Vice President and Ministry of Justice Raynold Oilouch stated that Aguon will take the NEA’s helm effective immediately.

BDETF was dissolved in March  following the issuance of a presidential executive order that created the NEA   under Ministry of Justice (MOJ).

Executive Order No. 394 established a new agency under the Ministry of Justice, as a result the duties and role of the BDETF has been transferred to the NEA.

The NEA is now a permanent agency within the MOJ but separate from the Bureau of Public Safety (BPS).

In his appointment letter, the President stated that Mr. Aguon is the “perfect candidate to develop and build NEA into the agency the Republic of Palau needs it to become.” He further stated that he has the “blessing of Vice President Oilouch and his colleagues, and that we stand ready to offer our support at the helm of this new agency.”

Aguon has earlier resigned as Director of Bureau of Public Safety.

In late  2015, President Remengesau has directed an immediate crackdown on drugs and their dealers after reports of rising substance abuse problem in Palau.

Remengesau created the BDETF as the agency to lead the campaign against drugs.

BDETF was instrumental in the arrest of Junior Larry Hillbroom last year.

Hillbroom,  a multi-millionaire who holds US and Palauan passports,  was arrested after the seizure of 160 grams of methamphetamine.

Jury trial on Hillbroom’s case is scheduled in June. [/restrict]