People don’t become addicts in isolation and when one goes down the path of addiction be it food, be it alcohol or meth we all go with them.
Here in the Cook Islands, because of our close-knit communities, we see it when someone passes away and we feel it reverberate in grief and sadness across all sectors of our community.
The sadness is felt by so many and how much more so should this evil drug be allowed to embed itself in the lives of our people and with all the darkness that comes with it.
Meth has destroyed communities in Hawaii, and is making its way through Fiji and of late has been showing up in Tonga.
If we think for one moment that it isn’t here in some shape or form then we are fooling ourselves because as the paper said this week we are a soft target due to the gaping holes in our entry and exit points.
The “fishing boat” that turned up last year in Aitutaki. The arrival of the Nino Maravilla, an old Ecuadorian fishing vessel, suspected of being involved with drug trafficking shoud be a clear indication to us all that we are a part of the web of drug movement somehow in the Pacific.
Just last week, Tongan police arrested a customs official in connection with the seizure of millions of dollars’ worth of drugs and included in the haul was US$2.6 million ($3.9 million) in drugs smuggled from the US including more than six kilograms of methamphetamine. With another report from 2018 sighting Fiji Police commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho when 58 bars of cocaine had been found on two islands in Tonga and they are the same quality as the caches found in Fiji.
Fiji, Tonga, Samoa all included in this drug web including American Samoa where the vice and narcotics division executed search warrants of a home in Alofau, where they found a haul from the raids included crystal meth with a street value of up to US$55,000, marijuana valued at up to US$25,000 plus 3 weapons and ammunition. And to our closest neighbour Tahiti where, in the past, all methamphetamine seized in Tahiti had been smuggled in from the United States, and where figures show last year 130 people were charged with methamphetamine-related offences and about 25kg of the drug were seized.
We need to wake up to the proliferation of meth and other drugs in and around the Pacific, through our neighboring islands nations and where the production and manufacture as well as the use of their ports and airlines and people as carriers and mules. If we think that somewhere in that web were are not included then we are clearly deluding ourselves. That the first case of someone apprehended for a meth charge is before the courts is not an indication that it has just turned up, more it is indication that for the first time it has been found.
The New Zealand Police last month released the results of three months testing (November to January) for meth, cocaine, heroin, MDMA/ecstasy and fentanyl at 37 wastewater plants taking in 80 per cent of New Zealand’s population. The results showed an overwhelming dominance of methamphetamine with nationwide use equating to $1 billion a year and an estimated $20 million per week in social harm.
Assistant commissioner Richard Chambers said 16 kilograms a week of meth across 80 per cent of the population “was a lot” and disappointing. He described the data as the “best information we have ever had”.
Wake up Cook Islands, we cannot afford to be complacent and neither should we allow what is already taking place with people complicit in what is happening across the Pacific in our own backyard.
If there was ever a drug that could destroy everything we know, everything we believe and value, everything we hold dear, our families, our sons and daughters and our children then meth will do it.
As New Zealand consumes up to 16kg of meth a week, a country where 63,000 of our people reside, some of our sons and daughters, parents, children and families are already in its deadly grip, I hope and pray that no one else will have to know the pain our family does and other families here in the Cook Islands because of this deadly drug.
Something tells me for New Zealand it may be too late but for the Cook Islands we can stop it before it gets out of control.