NEWS

‘Meths Made in Suva, Sold in Cities’

First indication of local manufacture surfaced in 2004 after Police uncovered a meth lab at Laucala Beach dubbed as the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere.
21 May 2019 13:11
‘Meths Made in Suva, Sold in Cities’
Methamphetamine.

The methamphetamine scourge has planted its roots in the country as the Minister for Defence and National Security Inia Seruiratu confirms that the narcotic is being manufactured locally for local distribution.

This is backed by the Police statistics on drug arrests. In February this year, Police arrested 15 people for possession of methamphetamine compared to no arrests in 2018. Similarly, in March of this year five arrests were made, two more than last year.

Police suspect that Methamphetamine is being manufactured in the greater Suva area.

“We are very concerned. This is one of the key challenges we face in terms of security and we are not working in isolation, but working with other partners and agencies as well in order to arrest the culprits and combat the use of synthetic drugs in Fiji,” Mr Seruiratu said. “We are very worried. We take this very seriously.”

The table above shows the types of drugs reported during the month of February and March 2019 in comparison to the same period last year. Of the 78 cases reported, 93.6 per cent were marijuana while 6.4 per cent were Methamphetamine.

The table above shows the types of drugs reported during the month of February and March 2019 in comparison to the same period last year. Of the 78 cases reported, 93.6 per cent were marijuana while 6.4 per cent were Methamphetamine.

First indication of local manufacture surfaced in 2004 after Police uncovered a meth lab at Laucala Beach dubbed as the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere.

Since then there have been arrests made at the border with people trying to get the drug into the country. However, recent drug arrests suggest local distribution of the drug is at a larger scale than previously thought. Mr Seruiratu said the narcotic commonly referred to as crystal meth, ice or P.1,2 is being manufactured locally and also being brought from abroad.

“It is both. We have concerns about the trans-border carriage of such drugs,” he said.

“At the same time the raw materials are available locally and anybody can just go to a pharmacy, get the raw materials and get it cooked.

“It is a concern. We have the technology and people are able to access this technology on how to prepare this drug.”

Mr Seruiratu said meth merchants were in for the money but the detrimental effect of the drug use trickles down to the family unit and to society.

“This is one of the prices we have to pay as a result of development and at the same time we have opportunities to fix this problem,” he added.

“Awareness is very critical and people have to be aware. I have stated this; we need a whole of nation approach on this. It is not only about the users, there are those who finance it, sell it and then there are the innocents who become victims.

“We have to accept the fact that the drug is here and the best way to deal with it is to curb the demand. If there is no demand, then there will be no supply,” Mr Seruiratu said.

The table above shows the number of drugs cases reported during the month of February and March for the years 2018 and 2019.

The table above shows the number of drugs cases reported during the month of February and March for the years 2018 and 2019.

The Minister for Health Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete last week confirmed that hospitals have been dealing with cases related to the drug. The New Zealand government spends $15million annually dealing with meth related cases in their hospitals.

In Australia, the drug is linked to organised crime. In the Pacific Chief of Police meeting earlier this year, Police commissioners across the region agreed that meth was becoming a serious problem for the region.

Commissioner of Police, Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho said every seizure, every farm raided and plants uprooted every drug lab that the Police had shut down, every arrest and every prosecution of a drug related offense is a success story.

“We do not pat ourselves on the back to say that the drug operations have been successful as the Fiji Police Force will continue to do all it can to fight the war on drugs,” he said.

“As the Minister for Health and Medical Services Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete has stated it is becoming a health problem where cases of meth abuse are being presented in hospitals.”

Edited by Susana Tuilau

Feedback: shalveen.chand@fijisun.com.fj

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