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Drug import rises

Ropate Valemei
Friday, February 01, 2013

THE Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority has confirmed the importation of drugs and other contraband through Suva's wharves.

FRCA's wharf operation officer-in-charge Josefa Marawa said smuggled drugs and weapons had been seized through random rummage operations.

Mr Marawa said their operation was to ensure the security of the country's borders.

"The vessels are normally selected through the pattern of their movement and the standards that we have whether they are a threat to our borders," he said.

Sixteen rummage operations were carried out in 2012 where customs officers confiscated undeclared alcohol and tobacco but no drugs or narcotics was discovered last year.

In 2011, a rummage exercise resulted in the discovery of cocaine in a vessel that came from Australia enroute to the US.

He said they also discovered restricted goods and suspicious weapons.

"A year ago (2011) there were drugs on vessels which were found by our intelligence unit," Mr Marawa said.

He said the cocaine which was reported lost from the police exhibit room last year was from a container vessel that berthed at the Suva Wharf.

"The risk level is a bit high as most of the cargo vessels brought in counterfeit goods, weapons and drugs."

Mr Marawa said fishing vessels also posed a high risk for the authority.

"There are a lot of illegal activities happening out there at sea and rummage checks are important for suspected vessels."

As Fiji is a transit port for the Pacific, Australia, New Zealand and other countries, Mr Marawa said there was a high chance of smuggling taking place.


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