More lucrative than addictive – why will meth remain?
The 4000 kilograms of methamphetamine also known as ice or aisa, found in Fiji has a street value of close to SAT$4 billion, more than the Gross Domestic Product of Samoa. The probability of similar amounts being in Samoa is now more than likely.
Police Commissioner Auapaau Logoitino Filipo’s concern regarding the seizure in Fiji is the right reaction that is needed. Turning a blind eye and believing that meth is not as prevalent in Samoa is a fool’s belief. The nation has to accept the fact and say ‘Yes, it is here.’ Once meth makes a base in any country then the battle by one singular authority is always lost.
By accepting this fact, we realise that there is much work to be done and it should have already started. From the first time, it was realised that the meth supply is increasing and not confined to just a few people, this scenario should have been addressed.
Auapaau has said the Samoa Police was boosting its efforts in handling border securities and operations, especially in monitoring the importation of methamphetamine.
Auapaau said the police will continue to keep an eye out. He said the biggest question for them was how the drug was entering the country as recent arrests suggest an increase of meth in the country.
"If this is already in Fiji then there is a possibility that it will also be found in Samoa and that's why we are being very careful and strict with our operations and monitoring the borders, especially between us and American Samoa,” he said.
"For now we do not have evidence that meth can be produced in Samoa but there is still a possibility that it can indeed be produced here in Samoa but we are not ruling that out now because there are some people who were caught before doing that."
For a small nation, the amount of meth available on the streets is unbelievable. From security officers to taxi drivers, they are selling it to tourists and locals. The complex nature of the meth operation only suggests an organised structure.
Apart from upgrading customs and border facilities, the only other way out of this situation is education and awareness. Children as young as 14-years-old are involved in this, both as users and runners. The poverty situation faced by child street vendors has also made some of them easy targets to distribute meth in Samoa.
Police can get hard on everyone, search the vendors daily, and have regular roadblocks with sniffer dogs. Has that worked anywhere in the world? Let us look at New Zealand. The police have been doing that but the operators always find other ways.
Eradicate the child vendor issue by having free education, and work on reducing poverty, and perhaps then some of these numbers will dwindle.
It is also time to break away from the tradition of not talking about certain subjects in the family circle. The realities of the use of this drug must be portrayed. Show children the hard images of meth addicts and shock their system. Awareness campaigns by authorities should not be just a few messages saying ‘be wise, don’t do drugs’ but the reality of the use should be talked about and shown.
The churches and village councils have to talk about this not just among themselves but also with the people. The situation will get worse. The number one reason why meth will continue to be in Samoa is not that it is highly addictive but it is highly lucrative. Money is the best motivator and there are people out there willing to poison others and get rich in the process. We can no longer believe that drug peddlers are small gangs but complex and well-organised criminal business entities.
The meth fire has always been thought to have been started by deportees but now the fire is out of control. A new approach is needed, an inclusive one otherwise we can be like Indonesia and Malaysia, where you get the death penalty for crimes related to narcotics.
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