Tuavera, who has been repeatedly warning about the importation and use of hard drugs in the Cook Islands, says he’s relieved that the issue is now being highlighted by Cook Islands News – “at least the media has the guts to admit we have a real problem here and we need to address it. Not sometime in the future when government, law enforcement, border control, health feel like they’re ready, but right now.”
Tamaiva says drug dogs should be working every single flight coming into the country as well as Avatiu and Aitutaki ports which have regular international shipping.
“Hundreds of containers come into the country all the time. How many are actually being subjected to inspection by drug dogs?”
Police communications division confirmed that there are just two working drug dogs in Rarotonga but would not divulge how many flights are actually worked each week.
Tuavera says he regularly travels overseas for business and “hardly ever” sees the drug dogs working flights – “it was a very long time ago when I last saw a drug dog at the airport.”
“I think it’s really worrying when a former Cook Islands Police minister and New Zealand Police detective Norman George talks publicly about El Chapo and Pablo Escobar people in our community, the ‘blindness’ of police here and they’re ‘pitiful’ actions with respect to fighting drugs in the country.”
Tuavera says current Police minister Mac Mokoroa, himself a former policeman, needs to seriously rev up the police force and get some proper, updated practices and procedures in place to put up a fight against drugs.
“The commissioner has talked a lot about the great relationship our police force has with New Zealand Police, he needs to get some serious training in, undercover agents working here. This is a lot more serious than the Operation Eagle of past years when they nabbed a few people with small amounts of marijuana and one guy with a class A drug, this is really serious and we need help to fight this before we end up like Tonga which has a huge meth problem amongst the people.”
With a lot of local speculation that meth abuse occurs at the highest levels of society here, including an MP widely alleged to be an abuser, Tuavera says the time for tiptoeing around the subject is “long gone.”
“PM Henry Puna needs to look long and hard at his own line-up, he needs to face reality, he needs to stop shielding the undeserving and arrogant who abuse drugs and start protecting those who deserve it – the people of this country, our communities need protection from the invasion of drugs.”
He added that during a radio talkback session after he had first gone public on the drug issue last year, PM Puna, minister Mokoroa and associate minister Tingika Elikana claimed to have had consultations with health, police and customs about the drug problem here.
“I know that to date, this hasn’t even happened and they have to stop misleading our people and being useless. They haven’t done jack to address the drug problem in any serious way.”
According to Tuavera, an offer of help to local police has been made several times by former detective inspector with Australian Federal Police Rod Henderson, who lives in the MP’s Ngatangiia constituency.
“Why they won’t accept his offer of help is beyond me. Here is an expert who lives locally who is prepared to give our police force the guidance they so badly need and egos get in the way of logic and achieving the greater good.”
Tuavera says when the Democratic Party becomes government, the public can expect a quick end to the current slack attitude of government and authorities saying there would be a major overhaul of current procedures and apathetic mindsets.