Tension Rises In War Drug

Police reinforcements have been sent to Navosa highlands as tension rises over the war on marijuana there. As ‘Operation Cavuraka’ enters its seventh day today, Police have received reports of
18 Jun 2016 11:30
Tension Rises In War Drug

Police reinforcements have been sent to Navosa highlands as tension rises over the war on marijuana there.

As ‘Operation Cavuraka’ enters its seventh day today, Police have received reports of threats from operatives acting on behalf of drug lords who now feel threatened as the joint Police-military operation closes in on them.

Armed soldiers are accompanying the Police to offer them protection.

Responding to comments made by SODEPA parliamentarian, Mosese Bulitavu, the Commissioner of Police, Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho said the possibility of marijuana farmers violently retaliating against his officers was very real.

He said Mr Bulitavu’s  statement shows his lack of understanding about operational issues.

Mr Bulitavu said while he commended the work done by ‘Operation Cavuraka’ he was concerned about the method adopted to undertake this operation.

“What is the objective of the operation? To destroy farms or threaten farmers or prevent cultivation or make arrests or what? One of the Police Force primary role is to investigate, caution accused persons, carry out reconstruction and the collection of evidence for criminal proceedings. The actions by the Police in the ‘Operation Cavuraka’ abuses or undermines this primary role.”

Brigadier-General Qiliho said the decision to work with the Republic of Fiji Military Forces was made because of their expertise in the field of self-sustainment the marijuana farms.

“Honourable Bulitavu must take note of the fact that my officers are not armed like other Police jurisdictions when they conduct similar raids. This is one of the main reasons as to why we had enlisted the assistance of the RFMF personnel.

“With regards to the destruction of drugs, all necessary procedures and processes are followed by my team of Police officers who are accompanied by a Government analyst as they are well aware of the need to protect the integrity of the operations and investigations.

“At the end of the day I would like to ask members of the public to keep in mind the mission of ‘Operation Cavuraka’ and that is to rid society of this drug which has over the years had a wide range of negative impacts.

“As mentioned by my Chief of Intelligence and Investigations, a handful are benefitting from this illegal trade while so many others are suffering from its impacts and that is the reason as to why we are conducting this operation.

“We are looking at the future generation so they are not caught in this vicious cycle.”

When asked if the soldiers were armed when the military were engaged in any operation, he said they usually carried arms. However, he said they were not armed when carrying out rehabilitation works.

Brigadier-General Qiliho said he visited the operation team at Keiyasi Village yesterday and they were in high spirits.

He said the raids would continue for some time and they were effective.

The Chief of Intelligence and Investigations, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Luke Navela, said Police had received threats while conducting raids on marijuana farms.

But he said the soldiers’ presence ensured the success of the raids.

ACP Navela said suspects were moving deep into the highlands in rugged terrain that was difficult to access.

More than 30,000 marijuana plants have been destroyed so far.

Edited by Rusiate Mataika


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