POLICE SAY INTERNATIONAL CRIME MOVING INTO PACIFIC

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (October 31, 2000 - Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat)---Federal police in Australia say the record haul of heroin in Fiji over the weekend is a strong indication that international crime syndicates are moving into the region.

About 300 kilograms (660 pounds) of heroin were seized in Suva in a joint operation involving authorities from Australia, Canada, Fiji, New Zealand and the United States.

Australian Federal Police Acting Commissioner Mick Keelty said although authorities are on top of these criminal activities, there's still more work to be done to tackle such crime in the Pacific.

"Syndicates are now looking at other operations," Keelty said.

"One method is to stockpile a bulk quantity offshore and then trickle feed it into Australia on an as-needed basis," he said. "People would place orders and have much smaller amounts that would be easier to bring in and distribute without risking the stockpile, or larger amount."

He said the Pacific has evolved into a testing ground for new methods of syndicate activity.

"We’d be silly to be fooled by not thinking that there is a lot of counter intelligence activity taking place each time we have a successful operation," he said. "When we have a major drug bust, we give it a lot of publicity in Australia. We know from telephone interception and from other activity that a lot of that information is fed back to the syndicates overseas so they can see where their point of vulnerability is."

The seizure in Fiji is a good indication of how syndicates have moved their operations offshore and into a different method, he said.

Keelty said some parts of the Pacific region that are undergoing political and social unrest, such as Fiji and the Solomon Islands, are particularly vulnerable to offshore criminal activity.

For additional reports from Radio Australia/Pacific Beat, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia/Pacific Beat.

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