POLICE in Fiji are widening their scope on the recent drug find to match a pattern of drug finds lately in the region amidst fears that the drugs may have been destined for Australia.
As drugs as seriously lucrative as these often attract equally adverse elements, it is no wonder that people like acting Assistant Superintendent of Police Prem Adip are reluctant to reveal too much details.
However he did say that they are looking at the operation of a cartel or syndicate, as Australian Federal Police sources hinted yesterday to media representatives there.
A woman from Mexico and a man from Colombia have been charged with the drug find and appeared in the Nadi Court recently.
The Council on Foreign Affairs website states that apart from traffickers in the United States, Colombians earn more from the drug trade than do any other nationality of the western hemisphere.
The infamous Medellyn cartel alone is reputed to earn some US$2 (F$3.24) billion to $4 (F$6.47) billion a year and to rival many Fortune 500 companies in terms of its global reach, the website states.
However all things aside - the two are innocent until proven guilty.
Mr Adip said while they were aware of the Australian aspect they could not confirm anything at the moment.
"Maybe it was destined for Australia or New Zealand but we do not have any indications from the two people arrested that they were destined for these countries," he said.
"At the moment no local has ever been charged for using such substances and all we have are people charged with marijuana use."
When asked about whether Australian officers being involved in investigations Mr Adip said by throwing light of movements of detectives involved and the time the drugs may be sent overseas for testing it would jeopardise the security of those involved.
"It would be best if I kept these things a secret as you know these things can get dangerous."
Mr Adip said Australian officers based with the Transnational Crime Office were assisting with the investigations.
Spokesperson for the Australian Federal Police in Canberra Rhiannon McAdie said AFP was aware of the arrests that occurred in Fiji in relation to drug importations.
Ms McAdie said two Australian police officers were also helping out with the Transnational Crime Unit in Suva.
She said the AFP have provided assistance, training and equipment to Pacific Island countries to establish their own transnational crime unit's (TCUs) to combat the threat posed by transnational crime in the Pacific.
"The Pacific Transnational Crime Network (PTCN) is an AFP initiative that provides a proactive, transnational criminal intelligence and investigative capability to Pacific region law enforcement agencies," she said.
"It is a law enforcement network that includes police, customs and immigration officers and comprises transnational Crime Units (TCUs) in Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu.
"The AFP is in regular contact with the Fijian Police, and other Pacific Islands, through the AFP International Network and the Pacific Transnational Crime Network," Ms McAdie said.
But as Police Commissioner Esala Teleni stated the main concern is how did the substances and those responsible manage to slip through our customs net in Nadi.
Questions sent to the Fiji islands Revenue and Customs Authority yesterday afternoon raising the issues highlighted by both local and Australian authorities were not replied to. Director of Immigration Viliame Naupoto said while they screen visitors who enter the nation and qualify for visitor's permits, the Customs department deals with the contents of bags of visitors that do enter the gates of our points of entry.
Mr Naupoto said it was important that a collaborated approach is undertaken so that drugs like this do not find their way into the country
When asked whether he felt that with Chinese entering Fiji without visas may see the increase of these incidents he said - it is concern when anyone of any race or country tries to smuggle these substances into the country.
In a Melbourne court last week, federal police alleged that a man charged with importing cocaine was part of an operation under which couriers left Australia for island countries where they met couriers who had arrived from South America, Australian media reported.
Fiji has seen a number of big drug busts recently, one involving 357 kilograms of heroin. Another was part of a joint operation with Australian police, which investigated what was described as the biggest methamphetamine factory detected in the southern hemisphere at Laucala Bay in Suva.
Ms McAdie also stated that a number of drug finds were made in late August.
On August 28, a 29-year-old man appeared in Sydney Central Local Court after allegedly attempting to smuggle 300 grams of heroin into Australia.
The man came to the attention of Customs officers when he arrived at Sydney International Airport on a flight from Vietnam on Sunday, 26 August. The man was suspected of internally concealing drugs.
A day earlier Customs and Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers prevented up to $87,000 worth of heroin from reaching the streets following the arrest of a drug courier and his Australian contact in Brisbane over the weekend.
A 29-year-old South African man appeared in Brisbane Magistrates Court this morning after attempting to import drugs, the AFP official website stated.
Customs officers stopped the man when he arrived at Brisbane International Airport on a flight from Hong Kong on Saturday, 25 August.
The maximum penalty for both offences in Australia is 25-years imprisonment or $550,000.
Australian Federal Police (AFP) believes drug dealers were using Pacific island countries as a place to meet couriers who arrived from South America to avoid suspicion.
However the most important concern would come from Nadi chief Ratu Meli Saukuru the Taukei Navo.
"I am concerned on behalf of the vanua and on behalf of the people of Nadi as the latest drug find was made in Nadi," he said.
"I do not know whether these drugs are for local use or overseas but what I cannot understand is the fact that one of the suspects spent four days in a hotel in Nadi without the alleged substance being detected by anyone.
"I call upon the interim Government and authorities involved to take these things seriously and be careful because we do not want to attract the kind of publicity and elements that are usually associated with drugs.
"There is an element of danger there that raises concerns and the fact that we do not want our children to come into contact with these kinds of drugs.
"It is no longer on our doorsteps - one person has shown that it is now in our very home without being detected.
"How do we know that others have slipped past our customs net and other substances have entered our country.
"We hope and pray that these things will not be tolerated nor happen too often."