11 Jun 2004

Seven people in Fiji court over drug bust

1:41 pm on 11 June 2004

Seven people are about to appear in court in Suva after police raided the biggest illicit drugs making laboratory ever found in the southern hemisphere.

They have been charged with manufacturing methamphetamine.

Shiu Singh reports from Suva.

"The seven people arrested in Suva include four Asian nationals and three Fiji citizens, two of whom are also Asians, who gained citizenship recently. Hong Kong police have arrested the money launderer of the Asian syndicate which set up the Suva laboratory and seized cash and property worth over thirty million Hong Kong dollars. Malaysian police have also arrested six people in connection with the same ring. Arrests are imminent in New Zealand. The police commissioner Andrew Hughes says a major drug syndicate has been smashed. But Commissioner Hughes is concerned that those in court may get off lightly because of Fiji's archaic drug laws and inadequate penalties. Fiji police have also started investigating government officials who allowed foreign nationals arrested in the drug raids into the country, despite knowing that they may be involved in illegal operations."