27 August 2019
Pacific transnational crime and specifically drug smuggling demands ever tighter surveillance, networking and intelligence sharing.
The need for networking, sharing of information, and capacity building to fight the illicit drug trade has been underscored at the Pacific Islands Chiefs of Police Conference , taking place in American Samoa, where close to 100 international delegates are in attendance.
With drug crimes the focus of this year's meeting, American Samoa's Police Commissioner, Fuiavailili Egon Keil, said there's a lot of work being done by the two Samoas to fight the growing problem.
He said drugs are entering the Samoan islands in all forms and they are trying to respond with the limited resources available.
"We don't have the money, the resources, the funding. We don't have the equipment. Sometimes we don't have the training. For example, this new drug Fentanyl. It is a very dangerous, addictive drug.”
"It is a form of synthetic opiate that's coming into the Pacific. And it's already in the States, it's in Europe. Some of it is making its way to Australia now."
Networking was certainly evident in the Solomon Island last September when 500 kilograms of cocaine was seized from a yacht moored outside the Honiara marina.
In that successful operation there was cooperation and operational support from theAustralian Federal Police (AFP), Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF), the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC), NSW Police
Recently, Fiji’s Defence Minister said his country was stretched to the limit in trying to stop the importation of illegal drugs.
Illicit drug discoveries had increased by 13 percent on the same time last year according to Defence Minister Seruiratu.
The minister told the Fiji parliament that in the past two years; nearly $US30-million worth of hard drugs had been seized at the border.
“It's fuelled by a growing appetite for cocaine and methamphetamine in Australia and New Zealand, that has seen Fiji become one of several Pacific countries to become transit points for American cartels,” the Defence Minister reportedly said.
In Tonga the police ministry is also seeking for regional collaboration to improve the country's ability to combat the harm done by drugs.
The government is developing a five-year national policy to tackle illicit drugs with input from the community and the Pacific Islands Forum.
The Tongan police are also looking at improving prevention programmes, putting more funds into getting the police to deliver warning on drugs to schools and communities...
Warning on illicit drugs and their harmful effects might usefully be incorporated in the RSIPF’s community policing plans, if not already being covered, and it will be absolutely essential for the local police to further monitor transnational crime trends and to work closely with the regional security agencies that successfully aided RSIPF anti crime and anti drug operations in the past.
Combined news sources – Radio New Zealand.