American Samoa and Samoa notice harder drugs coming into shores
Officials in American Samoa and Samoa say harder drugs like methamphetamine or cocaine are coming across their borders more often.
American Samoa's Commissioner of Public Safety Bill Haleck says the influx of drugs into the territory sadly shows there is a demand.
The Customs Division recently uncovered cocaine stuffed inside drink cans, and in another incident, two separate packages containing methamphetamine, or ice, were intercepted by Customs.
Moera Tuilaepa-Taylor reports:
American Samoa's Commissioner of Public Safety says ice and marijuana have been the territory's drugs of choice for many years, so the discovery of cocaine is new and a major concern. Bill Haleck says the recent packages revealed to have contained drugs show there is a demand for the drugs.
HALECK: Cases like this happening within a two-week timeframe, it's also pretty rare to see that, especially for an island of this size.
He says he is surprised that people have the money to buy illegal drugs.
HALECK: Like, crystal methamphetamine is very, very expensive. They will even take a gram and break it down to one tenth of a gram, and one tenth of a gram can cost you 50 dollars. So 50 dollars times 10, that's how much it would cost you for a gram of ice. And again, do the math, there's a lot of money to be made there.
The Catholic Social Services in the territory runs drugs and alcohol rehabilitation programmes. Its director Father Petelo Auva'a has noticed an increase in the number of people using their services.
PETOLO AUVA'A: We have more of these people, especially men, the ones that are sent by the court to come here for counselling. Not only men but especially the young people, the youth.
Father Petelo says most of the young people who attend their sessions are facing issues with alcohol which is cheap and accessible. But he says a lot more young people are turning to drugs.
PETOLO AUVA'A: Nowadays, I can see that more people are using drugs, even young people, they are also affected by drugs.
Bill Haleck says he believes most of the illegal drugs coming in to the territory are for local users.
HALECK: I'm assuming it's all sleighted for here, but there is always a possibility of it going over to Samoa or maybe continuing on.
Our correspondent Monica Miller says drugs are being sent off island.
MILLER: Some of these drugs are going over to Samoa, but there is also some thinking that Samoa is the gateway for drugs coming into the territory and then making their way to the west coast.
But Bill Haleck says there is one positive to come out of these recent drugs being found.
HALECK: If we are catching them at the boarders, through the post office or the airport, that is really a plus for us because we are nipping it in the bud to prevent these drugs from further going out to the users.
Neighbouring Samoa has its own ongoing battle with illegal drugs being imported from places like the United States. Our correspondent Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia says Samoa authorities are noticing harder drugs coming in.
AUTAGAVAIA: And now it's ice, and we are looking at the possibility of cocaine, as well, coming into Samoa.
Autagavaia says the discovery of harder drugs coming into Samoa is a concern for law enforcement agencies.
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