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Fiji Time: 12:14 AM on Tuesday 23 September

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Local link to cocaine bust

Saturday, September 22, 2007

locals living overseas are believed to be linked to recent efforts to smuggle cocaine into Fiji, says Police Commissioner Esala Teleni.

Mr Teleni said police were following leads that overseas locals were involved.

"We have some leads that there are locals involved locals living abroad and I mean that could also lead to some living here in Fiji," he said.

"But we have some leads and we have a team working on that.

"We have identified some foreigners living overseas also, so we're working through Interpol to try and get more information."

Mr Teleni said police intercepted the information through informers and intelligence officers.

"But surprisingly it (cocaine) came through the airport and according to investigations they were found in the handbag but they probably thought it was lollies or something like that. But it is a concern to the police because we need to strengthen border security."

He said Fiji could not rule out the possibility of a market for cocaine existing in the country with lifestyle and other social transitions being experienced. That was why the force needed certain equipment to conduct analysis and tests for drugs, he said.

Mr Teleni said the force had trained professionals who could carry out such tests but they did not have the right equipment.

He said the force was not well equipped to effectively monitor the country's borders with respect to the smuggling of drugs into Fiji.

Two tourists, Graciela Guillermine Feria Bravo of Mexico and Fernando Giraldo Rendon of Argentina appeared in Nadi Court on Tuesday for allegedly smuggling cocaine into the country, last week.

The pair was arrested with about 100 cubes of cocaine at a hotel in Nadi after police received a tip off.

Bravo and Rendon were charged with unlawful importation of illicit drugs while Bravo also faces an unlawful possession of illicit drug charge.

They were released on a $20,000 bail but will reappear on October 1 for the Director of Public Prosecutions to serve full disclosures.


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