27 May 2011

Son of Cook Islands deputy prime minister among 13 on drugs charges

5:35 am on 27 May 2011

Thirteen men and women have appeared in court in Rarotonga, following a major drugs bust in the Cook Islands earlier this month,

They were arrested after a year long investigation, dubbed Operation Eagle, which involved New Zealand and Cook Islands police.

The 70 charges relate to alleged activity over a seven year period from early 2004.

Name suppression has been lifted and one of those charged is the son of the deputy prime minister, Tom Marsters.

Giovanni Marsters is facing 14 charges including wilfully attempting to pervert the course of justice, importing, selling, and possessing illicit drugs, conspiring with others to import drugs, and possessing drug paraphernalia.

His de-facto partner and suspended Cook Islands police officer Inano Matapo, is also facing charges, including seven of accepting bribes.

Ms Matapo was once tipped to become the first female police commissioner in the Cooks.

A former senior New Zealand and Cook Islands police officer, Mark Franklin, is another of those charged.

He's facing four charges of selling illicit drugs and possessing drugs for supply or sale.

Mr Franklin is currently in New Zealand receiving medical treatment.