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Heroin suspected in packages found at Rarotonga retailer

Tuesday 20 February 2024 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Crime, National


Heroin suspected in packages found at Rarotonga retailer
The packages suspected to be heroin were hidden inside a wooden pallet within the Prime Foods warehouse. FACEBOOK/24021940

Narcotics discovered in the warehouse of a Rarotonga retailer are believed to be heroin. Cook Islands Police media officer Trevor Pitt said preliminary testing done by police, indicated the substance was heroin.

Pitt said it had not been confirmed officially.

It could only be confirmed by referring samples to New Zealand. He said that there were no further updates on the investigation.

The packages were in New Zealand still undergoing testing.

The matter was reported to police by Prime Foods workers who were unloading a container on the morning of January 11, 2024.

Former Australian detective and private investigator Rod Henderson said that it was unusual to find heroin in the Cook Islands, and he has not heard of it being mentioned in quite a while.

Henderson said heroin was not known as a popular drug anymore, “not the flavour of the month”, unlike methamphetamine or cannabis.

“If it is heroin, it is unusual, these days it is usually meth or cocaine, it is hard to believe that it is heroin. There is no real market anymore.”

Henderson said that if it was heroin, then the package was likely destined for another country.

Last month, Prime Foods managing director Daniel Forsyth set the record straight about the ongoing narcotics investigation involving his business.  

Forsyth clarified that the packages, initially believed to be narcotics found in a shipping container linked to his business, were actually discovered by an employee within the Prime Foods warehouse.

The packages were hidden inside a wooden pallet and Forsyth said it would be difficult to trace where the pallet was imported from.

The pallet itself was not a standard size and did not have any branded markings on it making it easy to check if there were others on the premises, Forsyth said at the time.

Only one pallet was found.

The business used pallets all the time and the pallet could have been there for two years, or it could have been there for a month, he said.

Forsyth, at the time, confirmed the business imports goods from New Zealand, the United States, Australia, Italy, Samoa, Fiji and the Netherlands. 

To trace which country it came from would be difficult “but not impossible” as video footage was taken when goods are loaded into Prime Foods containers at the country of origin and CCTV footage was taken at Prime Foods, he said.