Editorial comment- A tough nut to crack

Plants believed to be marijuana uprooted by Police in one of their earlier raids. Picture: FT FILE/SUPPLIED

Let’s face it.

The war on drugs is a never-ending battle!

Its tentacles touch the very heart of society.

The impact hits addicts hard like of tonne of bricks, sometimes tightly drawing them into an emotional roller-coaster ride that can leave them removed from reality.

On the sidelines are those impacted by the addiction, ranging from parents to other loved ones.

Then there is the fear that emanates from this illicit trade, spreading its wings to envelop unfortunate members of society.

They are drawn into a web of constant fear, uncertainty, and frustration.

Their lives are sometimes dictated by the whims of those linked to the drug trade.

At the apex sit the drug pushers themselves.

As our report on Page 2 today points out, Fiji had a 560 per cent increase in drug-related offences between 2013 and 2018.

This is according to a report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

It noted that from 200 drug-related cases in 2013, the number increased to 1400 by 2018.

The statistics were presented by the Fiji Police Force at the 43rd meeting of the Heads of National Drug Law Enforcement Agencies, Asia and the Pacific in Thailand last October.

In February last year, we reported the Fiji Police Force had run out of space to store drugs and drug-related equipment confiscated during successful raids across the country at the time.

Police Commissioner Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho issued a directive that month for the acquisition of containers to store the illicit substances and plants.

They were brought in during the war on drugs over the previous 14 months.

The temporary storage facilities, he said, would house the illegal drugs until cases were cleared by the courts and the substances and plants could be destroyed.

We felt it could have been a positive indication of the success rate, with police getting to the bottom of the drug trade, targeting the earliest part of the chain, at the farms, or the masses were proactive.

Brig-Gen Qiliho lauded the public for providing information that led to arrests and acknowledged his officers for the outstanding success of police operations.

However, in that month $31 million worth of cocaine was seized in a house in Caubati and a nightclub in Nadi was also raided, resulting in the discovery of an alleged laboratory used to produce illicit drugs.

The drug trade, without a doubt, is considered a lucrative one by people who are willing to test the law.

The situation we now face in Suva highlights the attention this issue needs.

The onus is on the powers that be to put in place measures that address the issues raised by residents, and identify what went wrong, and when.

We hope it isn’t a reflection of a fragmented society, one that has been pushed into a corner, and forced to embrace the scenarios that allegedly exist there.

There is a challenge for the powers that be to understand how drugs have reportedly become an integral part of the community, and what must be done to address the many concerns that exist.

There is a lot of hard work needed to provide options for those impacted by the drug trade.

Now that isn’t going to be easy given the alleged scenarios now presented to us.

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