Pacific Police Commissioners Meet In Fiji

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Fiji seen as hub of regional drug trade

By Repeka Nasiko

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, June 3, 2015) – More than 1.3 tonnes of cocaine has been seized by law enforcement agencies in Fiji and other emerging Pacific Island countries since 2010.

Minister for National Security and Defence Timoci Natuva revealed this drug seizure statistic while opening the first South Pacific Police Commissioners Conference in Sigatoka yesterday.

Mr Natuva said these drug busts were made possible through police operations in the South Pacific, with the cocaine being transferred to international lucrative markets through transit points such as Fiji and other emerging regional countries.

He said the threat of the drugs being distributed locally was high.

"The threat of possible spill-offs from this drug consignment transiting our borders remain high, thus the need for regional collaboration and increased co-operation amongst law enforcement agencies in our region," Mr Natuva said.

"Noting this growing threat, key law enforcement agencies in our region have established networking arrangements, including the convening in Vanuatu of the first South Pacific Commanders Conference in November 2013, to highlight the issues and trends currently emerging in the region."

Fiji Police Force chief of intelligence and investigations ACP Henry Brown said it was a worrying trend that there was evidence of hard drugs such as methamphetamine being sold locally.

"Fiji started seeing some tangible evidence of transnational crime and drug trafficking in the early 2000 where we seized about 357 kilos of heroine on a drug shipment to Australia and so that was the emergence of organised crime," Mr Brown said.

"Since then, it has been a consistent pattern. The organised syndicate changed, the routes have changed but Fiji has been at the centre of this smuggling ring.

"It's a worrying trend that it is in our local markets.

"We've also predicted that for that certain degree of seizures, there is also a certain degree that goes through the system and we have always predicted that it will spill over into the local market and we are trying our best to address that."

In the latest case, a shopkeeper in Nabua, Suva, was allegedly found to be in possession of methamphetamine.

According to police, the 31-year-old man has been charged with one count of unlawful possession of illicit drugs.

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