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Drug trade fact

Tevita Vuibau
Friday, July 04, 2014

THE Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority (FRCA) has confirmed there is indeed a market for the sale and purchase of hard drugs in Fiji, just a day after border officials recorded their fifth bust in five months at the Nadi International Airport.

While it is no secret the country has been used as a drug transit point in the past, authorities have never confirmed the presence of an actual local market for the trade.

But FRCA CEO Jitoko Tikolevu said the trade could be confirmed just by looking at the trend of drug interceptions at our borders.

"Very recently in a couple of weeks and months, detections have been made by Fiji Police and Fiji Customs and it is very regular now," Mr Tikolevu said at a press briefing yesterday.

"The trend dictates and shows clearly that yes, it is coming."

Statistics from police show there were three drug interceptions in February this year and one interception each in March and July, compared to a single interception for the same period last year

And according to police, all the interceptions involved Asians.

"Perhaps, given the flights coming through our borders as well as the frequency of yachts and boats, the target really is developing nations like Fiji and the Pacific islands," Mr Tikolevu added.

But Commissioner of Police Bernadus Groenewald said the trade did not represent a threat to national security at the moment.

"There are isolated issues that come up but it is not a threat at present, and we are not an open border for these types of drugs to be entered into," Mr Groenewald said.

"But we must accept that any developing country is susceptible to these drug lords because on one side they are aware of the fact that we do not have all the support of technology in place."

Police spokesman Inspector Atunaisa Sokomuri said the latest bust was made at 9.30am yesterday at Nadi International Airport involving another Asian national.

He explained that border officers noticed a suspicious package in the man's bag during a routine X-ray scan.

"The suspect was also acting in a suspicious manner and the suitcase was also found to have an odour emanating from it," Inspector Sokomuri said.

"Upon further searching, the border officials found a box with a brownish white powder in it that field-tested positive for methamphetamine."

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