AFMES JMWD program boosts counter-narcotics efforts

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Alexandra Minor
  • Armed Forces Medical Examiner System
In a stride towards combating illegal drug activities, the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System (AFMES) Joint Military Working Dog (JMWD) Program for Counter-narcotics plays an integral part in the Department of Defense (DoD) counternarcotic initiative, enhancing detection capabilities on military bases globally. The primary objective of the JMWD program is policy enforcement outlined within the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the Defense Health Agency and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

The JMWD program monitors and enforces standards to maintain DoD units’ compliance with the DEA and the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). This allows the program to provide narcotic training aids used for the training and certification of all DoD MWDs on odor detection of narcotics that are commonly found in the U.S. and on overseas installations.

Covering 164 installations under the narcotics program, the AFMES MWD laboratory manufactures, distributes, recalls, and destroys various narcotics including marijuana, heroin, cocaine, and MDMA (Ecstasy). The narcotics utilized are sourced directly from the (DEA) and are 100 percent pure, seized through DEA operations. This collaboration ensures that the training aids mirror real-world substances, allowing the units to have fresh odor scents for the MWDs.

“As we are the sole provider of narcotic training aids to the 341st Training Squadron in Lackland Air Force Base, all MWD Drug Detector Dogs (DDDs) are trained and certified using our aids. The quality of our training aids in addition to the training they receive has a big impact on mission success,” said Staff Sgt. Juan Salinas, MWD Handler.

Quality assurance inspections ensure inventory, narcotics, and documentation meet the highest standards. To maintain the efficacy of the program, personnel from the JMWD laboratory visit overseas installations at least once every two years, and DoD units within the U.S. once every four years.

“Narcotics detections is reactive to innovation by the adversary. Adversaries analyze what we do as much as we use case studies for them, so we adapt more when there is a new discovery, or a new narcotic developed. Every year we evaluate if there is a shortfall based on local, state, and national level of law enforcement,” said Staff Sgt. Salinas.

The program is always looking for ways to advance by adding new narcotic training aids to keep up with the current trends. Through dormitory wellness checks, joint drug operations with Office of Special Investigations (OSI), and base entry control checks, the JMWD Program has led to many drug finds for the MWDs.