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Fiji Time: 8:28 AM on Thursday 21 August

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Fiji ice alert

Torika Tokalau
Thursday, June 05, 2014

METHAMPHETAMINE is the largest drug threat to Fiji and the Pacific, UN Office on Drugs and Crime regional representative for South East Asia and the Pacific Jeremy Douglas believes.

Mr Douglas, in an exclusive interview with The Fiji Times, said methamphetamine, a synthetic drug also known as meth or ice, could be made anywhere.

"You can move production wherever you want. You can't make cocaine or heroin just anywhere because they are plant-based drugs but synthetic drugs, if you have the chemicals and if you have the smart chemists, you can make the drugs anywhere," Mr Douglas said.

"And this region is next to the region in the world with the biggest meth problem which would be South East Asia, mainly China, Indonesia, Philippines. These countries have large production of meth."

He said Fiji was vulnerable to drug trafficking because of its unique location between South America and South East Asia — the biggest suppliers of cocaine, methamphetamine and chemicals used in meth production.

"Drug traffickers look for opportunities and this is a nice place for them to move drugs through."

"And also, this area is vulnerable to money laundering because its got banks, it has international connections to the regions I've mentioned so you can easily put money in and out as well."

He said new products shown in other parts of the world were more pure forms of meth which was more addictive.

"This is crystal ice, but there are higher purity forms of crystal ice which has been seen in the market and trafficked from South East Asia to Fiji recently, and trying to use Fiji to get to Australia or just getting it to Fiji as a market.

"So I think they (Fijian authorities) really need to keep their eyes open for that.

"They need to keep their eyes open for chemicals coming here to make the drugs and possibly of organised crime groups from all those other regions, like East Asia setting up shop here to make the drugs here themselves."

Assistant commissioner of police Rusiate Tudravu confirmed they were working with international and regional authorities to strengthen Fiji's border security.

"We cannot rule out transnational crime issues and also drugs being transported through Fiji because we have registered reports in regards to that in the past," Mr Tudravu said.

"We can confirm that there is no meth lab here in Fiji but we cannot rule that out for the future.

"We are closely monitoring our borders because of Fiji's vulnerability in terms of location."

AT A GLANCE

* In 2004, a laboratory producing about 500kg of methamphetamine in one week was discovered in Suva;

* On July 14, 2010, methamphetamine worth about $5m was seized in a raid in Suva; and

* On February 2, 2014, a 60-year-old US citizen was apprehended at Nadi International Airport for allegedly being in possession of 7.5kg of methamphetamine.


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