11 Jul 2018

Cocaine seizures will do little to dent Pacific smuggling highway

5:15 pm on 11 July 2018

A security analyst says the recent discovery of significant hauls of cocaine in Fiji and Tonga will have barely dented the supply being smuggled across the Pacific.

In recent weeks, Fiji authorities have seized two yachts with US$15 million worth of cocaine, and the police in Tonga seized 58 kilograms of cocaine in a raid in Ha'apai.

A security researcher at Strategika, Jose Sousa-Santos, said the haul was massive, but it was probably insignificant in the grand scheme of transnational crime in the Pacific.

He said crime syndicates are growing across the region, and authorities are seemingly on the back foot.

"One of the main tactics being utilised by the transnational crime syndicates is that they never use the same route for a long period of time. So they will swap."

"For example, at the moment Fiji seems to be the route that's being utilised over the past few months and the recent seizures have definitely indicated to the syndicates that that is now a hot zone, so we might see for example a change towards Vanuatu or a change towards New Caledonia," he said.