Where’s the best place to burn drugs? A crematorium used for burning bodies….
This is where Fiji police turned to last week as they disposed of 133 kilograms of cocaine. The narcotics washed up on the shores of an island in Fiji four years ago, and despite joint operations with Australian and New Zealand police, the source of the drugs is still unknown.
However it became clear that the Pacific Ocean was being used as a highway for illegal trade.
At the time it was quite a shock to the people of the Lau islands when the bricks of white powder started washing up on the shorelines of their island homes.
Last week, the Fiji Police Force used the chambers of the gas crematorium situated outside its capital in Suva to turn to ash the cocaine collected on that day.
Fiji Police have estimated that the street value of the drugs was AU$30 million. The drugs were destroyed in the presence of Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho and other police officers.
However one brick of the drug was retained by police, although not for the purpose some may think. Mr Qiliho says a kilo of the drugs will be kept for K-9 training capability, which was approved by the courts in Fiji.
He said the crematorium has proven to be a worthwhile facility to use to destroy drugs.
“We have been looking around at the facilities that can give us best in the destruction of the drugs and this is the best facility we found we can use. This is the first time that we have come to such facilities so at the end of this the residue that is left , the ashes will be taken back for testing again and if there is positivity in that, we have to go through the process again until there is nothing left,” he said.
Dignified Crematorium managing director, Maurice Ruggiero, said the process involved will not emit any harmful smoke or cause anyone to get intoxicated from the fumes that are released because of the burning process.
“The incinerator compromises of two chambers. The bottom chamber is called the primary chamber, that’s the chamber where the drugs are loaded into and that’s where the destruction of the cocaine happens and it happens at a temperature of approximately 1000 degree Celsius,” he said.
Apart from the cocaine destroyed last week, the Fiji Police Force in its holding has similar amounts of cocaine and more methamphetamines which are subject to cases which are presently before the court.
Fiji’s brush with international narcotics organisations is nothing new. In 2004, a joint operation with Australia and New Zealand led to the discovery of the biggest meth lab in the Southern Hemisphere in Suva.