By rnz.co.nz and is republished with permission
Fiji’s public prosecutor has sanctioned charges against 13 people in connection to the Nadi drug raids on 14 and 20 January.
The 13 accused persons are charged with unlawful possession of illicit drugs, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) in a statement on Monday.
“Of the 13 accused persons, two are also charged with unlawful importation of illicit drugs. It is alleged that the accused persons without lawful authority, facilitated the importation and were found in possession of 4.8 tonnes of methamphetamines, an illicit drug.”
The ODPP said three out of the 13 accused persons have also been charged with possession of property suspected of being proceeds of crime.
“It is alleged that the three accused persons were found in possession of cash (local and overseas currency) suspected of being proceeds of crime,” the statement said.
The 13 people will be produced at the Nadi Magistrates’ Court on Monday afternoon, local time.
‘Destined for foreign market’
Assistant Commissioner of Police (Crime), Mesake Waqa confirmed that Fiji was being used as a transit for the drugs.
“Through joint efforts with our international law enforcement partners the Australian Federal Police and the Pacific Transnational Crime and Coordination Centre, it has been confirmed that Fiji was being used as a transit point and that the methamphetamine was destined for a foreign market,” he said.
“It is expected some of the spillover was for the local market.”
Waqa said the drugs arrived in Fiji in late December.
He said the exchange of the shipment of methamphetamine is believed to be made outside of Fiji’s Exclusive Economic Zone, and the packages were delivered via a barge.
The investigation revealed that the accused persons in taking delivery of the illicit substances stored it at a private warehouse, Waqa said.
“It is alleged that more than three tonnes were transported to Legalega and later more than one tonne to Maqalevu. Those involved in the delivery and subsequent packing of the drugs have also been charged.”
Waqa said the investigations “are by no means over” and Fiji police will be working with foreign counterparts and expecting to make more arrests.
The investigators are working with the ODPP looking into the proceeds of crime.
“Investigations will also be pursuing information of the involvement of other locals as we cannot rule out the involvement of other persons of interest. Investigations have also uncovered the involvement of a foreign national tied to a known syndicate, whom we are pursuing with the help of our international partners.”
“The Fiji Police Force acknowledges with sincere gratitude the sharing of information resulting in the quick arrest of three of the main accused persons in the Northern Division as they were allegedly trying to flee the country.
He also acknowledged people who came forward to provide information of suspected illegal activities, resulting in other arrests.
“At this juncture of the investigation and with the case to be presented before the courts today, the Fiji Police Force will not be making further comments on the ongoing investigation until major developments are made.
He said Fiji Police is committed to ensuring those involved in the illicit drug trade are brought to justice.
“Through the support of our foreign partners, we are confident of disrupting drug syndicates and reiterate that no one is above the law.”