On October 20, 2023, a Palauan woman arriving from Guam was allegedly caught with over 31 grams of methamphetamine at the Palau International Airport. The woman, Ms. Glafira Florencio, was charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance, a felony charge carrying a jail sentence of not less than fifteen (15) years and not more than twenty-five (25) years in prison and a fine of not less than $10,000 and not more than $20,000, for conviction. The street value of the drugs seized was pegged at 31,000 dollars.
Ms. Florencio was already a person of interest to the police and was closely observed upon her arrival. During the Customs’ inspection of her backpack, a small item wrapped in blue tape was found, but she immediately put the item in her mouth when questioned by the Customs Officer, claiming that it was betel nut.
According to the report, three similar items were found, seized, and tested during the second inspection. The results were positive for methamphetamine.
Florencio was taken into custody. At her bail hearing yesterday, her bail was set at $50,000 cash. Vice President and Minister of Justice Uduch Sengebau-Senior said the bail was high due to the defendant’s flight risk status.
Minister of Justice Uduch Sengebau-Senior, with Acting Director of Bureau of Public Safety Rickley Antonio and Director John Tarkong of the Bureau of Customs & Border Protection at the press briefing yesterday on the incident, said it was a result of the cooperation between their bureaus.
“With increased flights, Director Tarkong of Customs & Border Protection and the Narcotics Enforcement Unit (NEU) got together to monitor the influx of illegal drugs into Palau through our borders,” explained BPS Acting Director Antonio.
Antonio said the work focuses on catching those people with money who bring illegal drugs into Palau. “The work of the NEU to track drugs inside of Palau is difficult. The drug can be crushed and sold in very small amounts. The buyers usually have difficult home situations that get more difficult with the prosecution. Our focus is on those who have a lot of money and are buying and bringing the drugs in. By monitoring the borders, we can reduce the amount of drugs coming in with the few people we have.”
Director John Tarkong Jr., Customs & Border Protection, expressed, “The whole purpose of this meeting today is really to point out that we are out here to do our job, to work together and to eliminate those barriers between us because the big focus is on protecting Palau from drugs and other types of contraband coming in.”