Fiji meth crisis: Police compromised in battle against addictive drug

By Barbara Dreaver, Pacific Correspondent, 1news.co.nz and is republished with permission

As Fiji grapples with its methamphetamine crisis, the country is also facing widespread corruption in its police force.

The use of meth is so widespread that police are being asked to tamper with evidence.

Officers are being asked to tamper with evidence, steal meth and in some cases are heavily involved in the dealing network.

1News has been told by high level sources that a tonne of meth, linked to the Nadi meth consignments seized earlier this year, is missing.

Dealers have revealed to 1News how easy it is to bribe the police.

“A lot of police are using themselves (they) interfere with evidence to lessen charges, to lessen the imprisonment we will call our guys in the police force and we will tell them, ‘why don’t you get the evidence you got last week from the B grade ones switch it up and resell it?'”.

Fiji’s Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka said that as former police minister he finds it hard to believe “but we are all human, we are fallible and some are bound to be the victim of temptation”.

The Home Affairs Minister responsible for Police, Pio Tikoduadua, admitted corruption is a big issue in the police.

“A lot of it is true and some have been taken to task about it, it’s something that needs to be done properly quickly,” he said.

Fiji’s Acting Police Commissioner Juki Fong Chew has not been available for an interview, but is widely considered to be a safe pair of hands. He has replaced Sitiveni Qiliho who is doing jail time for abuse of office along with former Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama.

1News understands there are other ongoing investigations against the pair.

In a startling Facebook post, Fiji’s Commander of the Joint Task Force Manoa Gadai alleged Qiliho stopped a joint military police drug raid from proceeding on Fantasy Island.

Amongst others coming forward is respected police veteran Rusiate Tudravu who unexpectedly resigned as deputy commissioner in 2021. He’s a witness in an upcoming case against Qiliho and Bainimarama and is unable to say much.

However, he said he was asked to do things by people in power that were illegal or questionable.

“There are elements of corruption, but we have the political will now for the police to organise and conduct itself and I know we just need to weed out, identify corrupt police officers,” he said.

“There are a lot of dedicated police officers, just a few that have gone the wrong side of the law”

Fiji has asked the United Nations for help with an HIV/AIDS epidemic which has been fuelled by the country’s spiralling methamphetamine trade.

Fiji has asked the United Nations for help with an HIV/AIDS epidemic which has been fuelled by the country’s spiralling methamphetamine trade.

With the meth trade endemic at every level and destabilising society, the military wants decisive action from the Government.

Military spokesman Eroni Duaibe said the magnitude of the problem is alarming and is impacting on the security of the country which the military is responsible for.

“The fact that there’s some evidence that has pointed the military towards certain individuals being involved, its very concerning and alarming for us,” he said.

The military insists it wont get involved in governance, but wants to use firearms when needed to support police as the drug crisis spirals.

Transnational crime specialist Jose Sousa-Santos said the biggest problem at the moment is a compromised police force

Fiji struggling under the weight of meth crisis

The country’s police minister has described the epidemic as creating a “nation of zombies”.

https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.641.0_en.html#goog_1776315075Play Video

Fiji struggling under the weight of meth crisis6:34

The country’s police minister has described the epidemic as creating a “nation of zombies”.

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“I am seeing the infiltration corruption of law enforcement and other agencies that are tasked with addressing this issue. You can’t have an effective mitigation policy against methamphetamine and the groups which are involved in this including the big players, if the agencies that are tasked with addressing this issue are part of the problem,” he said.

The will to change is there, but it’s not going to be easy.

Sometimes when a business is growing, it needs a little help.

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