PM warns drug dealers

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama during the official launch of the China-Aid Non-Intrusive Inspection Equipment at Suva Wharf. Picture: RAMA

PRIME Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has issued a stern warning to drug dealers using Fiji as a transit point, saying drug dealers who disregarded the laws of the country would face the consequences of involving themselves in the illegal drug trade.

Mr Bainimarama said there were already a few foreigners spending their nights in Fiji’s prisons who could testify to that fact.

“We will never allow Fiji to descend into such lawless chaos,” he said.

Police Commissioner Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho had earlier indicated that Police were aware of a market for hard drugs in Fiji and they would come down hard on those involved.

Drug dealers using Fiji as a transit point should be prepared to extend their stay indefinitely.

This is the warning from Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

“When it comes to our border security, we need to protect our people from the devastating impact that illegal flows of trade — particularly hard drugs — can have on a society’s development,” he said.

Mr Bainimarama said there was an enormous body of evidence that showed when drugs passed through a nation’s borders, innocent people became the victims.

When they get access to hardcore drugs, Mr Bainimarama said, it placed them one bad decision away from destroying their entire lives.

“And drug dealers — with no regard for a nation’s laws — bring violent tactics that spill over into society at-large, putting ordinary people at risk.

“We will never allow Fiji to descend into such lawless chaos.

“If anyone comes to our country looking to sell hard drugs or use Fiji as a transit point to our neighbours, they should be prepared to extend their stay in Fiji indefinitely.

“There are already more than a few overseas offenders spending their nights in Fiji’s prisons who can testify to that fact.

“And thanks to allocations in our 2019-20 National Budget, they’ll likely soon be welcoming new bunk mates.”

He said the $800,000 budget allocation would be used to fund a stronger effort to combat drug trafficking, with full-time staff dedicated to combating networks of drug dealers and suppliers.

Meanwhile, the Fiji Police Force yesterday confirmed that a 22-year-old woman was in police custody after she was arrested in Sigatoka.

Police spokesperson Ana Naisoro said the woman was found with white substances believed to be illicit drugs.

Ms Naisoro said a policewoman constable had seen the suspect sitting inside a car near a supermarket in Sigatoka Town acting in a suspicious manner on Monday afternoon.

After a search was conducted on her, Ms Naisoro said, police discovered small clear bags containing white substances and crystals believed to be methamphetamine and a bag containing pink tablets.

“Also seized were smoking apparatus, a syringe and memory cards,” she said.

Police had also found more than 10 clear plastic containing crystal like substances believed to be methamphetamine, a container of bullets of dried leaves, dried leaves found inside a receipt book and seeds all believed to be marijuana and smoking apparatuses during a raid in the North last week.

Police Commissioner Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho had earlier said that Police was aware of a market for hard drugs in Fiji and Police intelligence was closely working with the Republic of Fiji Military Forces intelligence to catch these people.

He had also said for a small country like Fiji, it was worrying what these drugs could bring to the country.

Brig-Gen Qiliho said Fiji just needed to see what was happening in Australia and New Zealand to see the effects of methamphetamine.

According to the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission’s annual Illicit Drug Data Report 2016-17, its CEO Michael Phelan said drug markets in Australia remained resilient, with enduring demand for illicit drugs, particularly illicit stimulants.

He said while cannabis was the predominant illicit drug market, the methylamphetamine market remained large and intractable and the cocaine market was increasing rapidly, while the heroin market remained relatively small and stable.

In the report, Mr Phelan also highlighted that illicit drugs were not just a law enforcement issue.

He said a holistic approach needed to be employed focusing on supply, demand and harm reduction.

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