Man charged with importing narcotics

Monday May 28, 2018 Written by Published in Crime

A 30-year-old man has been charged with possessing and importing narcotics.

The man was arrested at the Rarotonga International Airport on Saturday afternoon and was subsequently charged.

“The use of drugs is a scourge on society – if people are willing to take risks they will be caught and will face the severest of penalties and consequences,” said commissioner of police Maara Tetava in a release sent to CINews.

“Our laws are among some of the toughest in the Pacific and it is an indication that our government and our people will not tolerate such unlawful behaviour.”

Tetava said the arrest comes on the “tail end” of a week-long narcotics workshop, during which the police service and border authorities were engaged in training with their New Zealand and Australian counterparts.

“Police and supporting agencies are well-prepared to deal with illegal importations and this current arrest is a result of vigilance by our border officers,” said the commissioner.

Tetava’s comments come after New Zealand’s associate finance minister Shane Jones blamed “closely failed states in the Pacific” for New Zealand’s worsening drug situation in a statement made earlier this month.

“Many of the problems that we are dealing with here, with P (methamphetamine) and drugs, where do you think that is coming from folks? That is coming from closely failed states in the Pacific,” said Jones.

“I have extraordinarily high fears about Pacific Island states being used as transit points for mischief and mayhem, eventually making its way to New Zealand.

“We need to be absolutely vigilant with our Pacific neighbours that they are not exploited as points of transition where poison is spread.”

The Cook Islands has had its fair share of international drug-related incidents, with the controversial Nino Maravilla saga only recently coming to an end.

The vessel arrived in the Cook Islands on February 22, with eight crew members aboard.

At the time, the unannounced arrival of the Nino Maravilla at Aitutaki drew a lot of attention. It was widely rumoured that the boat had been used to transport narcotics. However, a 70-day, multi-agency investigation found no traces of drugs and the crew was eventually allowed to leave.

Speaking at the opening of the Ocean Monitoring Centre in March, prime minister Henry Puna said Cook Islanders “can be proud in our efforts as a large ocean state to demonstrate leadership in ocean stewardship and ensuring justice and peace in our Moana Nui a Kiva”.

“Let’s not be complacent – we might live in a peaceful, beautiful, God-loving country, but there are people out there who think otherwise, and act otherwise, so we need to be aware of these challenges.

“We will seek the maximum fines and forfeiture possible under our laws, and where there are gaps in our legislation we will rigorously strengthen these for the safety of our people and our ocean” said Puna.

The arrested man will appear in court today.

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