AUSSIE DRUG PROBE LEAKED BY VANUATU POLICE

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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (SIBC, April 23) – An Australian Federal Police intelligence dossier that names a dozen suspects allegedly tied to an international drug-smuggling ring—including Vanuatu locals—has been leaked in a major security breach.

The Australian newspaper reports the dossier alleges that Australians, Americans, Swiss citizens, New Zealanders and Vanuatu locals are linked in a major racket to produce and distribute large quantities of amphetamines and cocaine.

[PIR editor’s note: According to the story in The Australian, the document describes the activities of related Swiss-based companies, and reveals covert monitoring of suspect fund transfers to a pharmaceutical company in China. It also recommends surveillance of a mining area in Vanuatu relating to a suspected storage and transshipment point for illicit activities. Australian government lawyers applied to the Vanuatu Supreme Court to order the destruction of the dossier. However, the legal application failed and copies of the dossier have now been read by every suspect named, resulting in red faces in the Australian Federal Police and the collapse of its operation.]

Sources in Port Vila say a copy of the dossier had been hand-delivered by an Australian Federal Police employee to the lawyer of one of the suspects who was involved in smuggling conman Peter Foster into Vanuatu.

[PIR editor’s note: According to PIR news files, 44-year-old Peter Foster was convicted in Vanuatu and fined on immigration charges. He was arrested in Brisbane, Australia in February, immediately taken into custody by Australian Federal Police and charged with dealing with the proceeds of crime greater than US$77,467. He was remanded in custody on the charge, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in jail. The charges relate to a loan that Foster allegedly falsely obtained from the Bank of the Federated States of Micronesia.]

However, the Australian Federal Police says the dossier was mistakenly released by the Vanuatu police force.

Officers based in Vanuatu have unsuccessfully tried to retrieve the dossier, which includes photos and computer records, from the Supreme Court before it could be read or copied by the suspects.

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