Papua New Guinea

Drug link to PNG money grab

It was meth. The white like substance found in a sewer swamp in Papua New Guinea’s capital Port Moresby has been tested and identified as methamphetamine.

Along with the five packets of meth, the sewer spewed bundles of cash. The discovery of the cash led to a frenzy filled money fishing expedition as residents of Morata invaded the swamp.

National Capital District Metropolitan Police Superintendent Gideon Ikumu said it was high grade meth and police suspected the involvement of crime syndicates.

People fishing for cash in a sewer pond in Morata, PNG. Picture: Twitter

“We now have to work extra hard to trace the source of the drug, possibly linked to drug syndicates and people involved in money laundering,” he told media in PNG.

PNG’s National Forensic Science Centre tested the white substance.

He said there was a high possibility that the money and drugs may have been hidden in the sewers during the recent rain and floods.

The thousands of dollars gathered by the residents of Morata were legal tenders. However, according to residents of Morata there were more bags found but only five were given to the police.

The Transnational Crimes Unit are investigating the matter. In most cases, narcotics found in PNG have been for transportation to other destinations.

In 2019, 200 kilograms of cocaine was found after a plane transporting the narcotics crashed. The drugs were bound for Australia.

However, the landscape in the Pacific has evolved. A report by the Lowy Institute showed that over time, local players are becoming involved within Pacific nations. This has led to local usage of meth in PNG, Fiji, Tonga, Palau, American Samoa, Cook Islands, and a few other nations.

Meth. Picture: Twitter

The report found that this was due to the region’s location between major economic markets on the Asian and American borders of the Pacific Rim.

Author of the report, José Sousa-Santos said he was surprised to find how entrenched Pacific crime syndicates were. He said there were strong ties with criminal organisations from China and Mexico, as well New Zealand and Australia.

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The report said that in Fiji 148 drug-related policing cases were noted in 2009, but by 2018, police reported 1,400 arrests where meth was a significant drug found on perpetrators.

A meth user. Picture: Twitter

Eight tonnes of cocaine was seized in the Pacific region between mid-2016 and 2018.

Inter-regional police cooperation led by Australia and New Zealand has led to strengthening of policies and policing of illicit drugs in the Pacific.
In September 2021, police in New Zealand seized 30 kilograms of meth which was sent from Tonga.

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