“It’s a drug war and essentially it’s coming here to Samoa”
Drugs being intercepted at international airports - whether it’d be meth, cocaine or marijuana - is nothing new. It’s a problem that is certainly not confined to Samoa.
Indeed, when we look a bit deeper, we will find that it’s quite a serious problem not only in the world, but lately right across the Pacific.
What is new in Samoa – and this should alarm us all – is the quantity of drugs in some of the recent busts. The latest discovery by local authorities of drugs estimated to be worth close to half a million tala at the Faleolo International Airport on Sunday evening is quite chilling.
While we don’t have official statistics, this would have to be one of the biggest drug busts in history for Samoa. Estimated to be worth well over $400,000, the heroin and cocaine were brought in by a Vietnamese woman whose final destination was American Samoa.
She had flown in from Fiji when she was detected and charged.
So why should we be alarmed?
“This is the first time I’ve come across heroin in Samoa,” said Police Commissioner, Commissioner of Police Fuiavaili'ili Egon Keil. “It is a narcotic analgesic, a painkiller and it’s a tranquilliser substance and illegal in Samoa. It is highly addictive.”
We couldn’t agree more with the Commissioner. The work of Customs officers and officials at the Airport, which led to the drug bust, must be commended. Keep in mind that this Vietnamese woman is not the only one. Over the years we’ve seen an increasing number of travellers being busted for possession of a variety of drugs.
But there is something disturbing about Sunday night’s drug discovery. The amount of money involved suggests there is far more than meets the eye, when it comes to this incident.
What’s more, the carrier’s bravery in thinking she could just breeze through Samoa’s borders undetected tells a story.
A critical question that has not been answered yet is where did the drugs come from and for whom were they intended?
The fact is Sunday’s bust is unlikely to have been the only time drugs had been transported through our borders.
Chances are, whoever was responsible must have had people slip through with similar drugs before, even it they were on a much-smaller scale. This woman would not have been sent here, if these people didn’t think they would get through. Alas she was stopped.
The truth is that the drug bust at Faleolo International Airport has been made at a crucial time, where the issue of drug lords and drug kingpins have been reportedly using the Pacific to run their dirty operations. The issue has been making headlines all over the world lately. All you have to do is follow the news in Fiji and Tonga where most of the drug action has been taking place.
This is why the discovery on Sunday night in Samoa is alarming.
If anything, it should be a wake up call to the relevant authorities that while all the attention has been diverted to Fiji and Tonga, criminals are on the look out for new avenues to operate. Samoa is a prime target.
The good news is that local authorities are well aware of it. Besides, for the best part of a whole year now, the messages coming from the Police and the Ministry of Revenue, which runs the Customs Division, have been very positive.
Take the Police Commissioner Fuiavaili’ili, for instance. He has been sounding the alarm bell since last year, looking at what has been happening in American Samoa.
“I’m very concerned. Being the chair of the Pacific Transnational Crime Coordination Centre, we gather all the statistics about what’s happening. There is a big emerging drug issue and Samoa is right in the middle,” he said.
“It’s a drug war and essentially it’s coming here to Samoa. Discovered recently were 103 kilo of cocaine found floating on Fiji waters and another 60 kilo of the same type of cocaine washed ashore in Tonga.
“And were’ talking about $200,000 million, the cash value and it is a concern. It’s hitting the shores of Tonga, Fiji and Pago Pago and that means it’s heading here too. Samoa is definitely not immune from the drug problems.”
Well the Police Commissioner is correct.
Sunday night’s drug bust at Faleolo Airport is solid proof. But that’s only the start. The relevant authorities need to do a lot more to ensure all points of entry to Samoa are protected.
Have a safe Thursday Samoa, God bless!