11 Jun 2004

Fiji drug lords may get away with light punishment

10:36 am on 11 June 2004

Fiji's police commissioner believes that the seven people arrested this week in the US$560 million drug bust in Suva may get off lightly.

Andrew Hughes has told Radio Legend that Fiji laws dealing with such crimes are very old and outdated.

Mr Hughes says existing laws don't give powers to the police to tap phonelines if they get a judge's warrant.

He says Fiji has very weak penalties that haven't kept pace with changes on the global drug scene.

A bill currently before Fiji's parliament provides for fines of up to US$600,000 and life imprisonment for anyone, found guilty of manufacturing illicit drugs.

Mr Hughes also says the three Fiji nationals arrested with four Asians for setting up the lab to manufacture meth-amphetamine at a rate of 500 kilogrammes a week are key players in the criminal syndicate.

Mr Hughes says more locations and people are being targeted, in case the drugs have been leaked into the local market.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong police have arrested the money launderer of the Fiji-based crime syndicate and seized US$3 million and US$1.5 million in property.