22 Feb 2019

Tonga steps up fight against drugs

2:57 pm on 22 February 2019

Tonga's Minister of Police says the fight against illicit drugs and their harmful effects on people is a key priority for the government.

Minister of Police Hon Mateni Tapueluelu presenting Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon Gerry Brownlee with a gift on May 10th 2017.

Mateni Tapueluelu Photo: NZ High Commission, Nuku'alofa Tonga

Mateni Tapueluelu said a new agreement with Australia, New Zealand and Fiji police to combat serious and organised crime signals a regional approach to a regional problem.

He said the Tongan government would be increasing staffing levels and police resources.

The Tonga Police Drug Enforcement Taskforce was launched in April 2018 and a total of 154 arrests have been made since then.

The government was also setting up a National Drugs Steering Committee to gather agencies and community leaders together to deal with the problem.

Police Commissioner Steve Caldwell said the international police agreement reflected a will to take the fight to drug dealers moving through Tongan waters, and further protect the country's people and borders.

Meanwhile the latest arrests this week involved seven people who had 14 packs of methamphetamine.

Matangi Tonga reported the arrests came after drug busts were carried out in three different locations and five men and two women are now in custody while investigations continue.

There have been several police raids involving arrests relating to drugs this month.

Deputy Police Commissioner, Pelenatita Vaisuai, said police were taking proactive measures to rid communities of illegal drugs and he appealed to the public to contact police if they saw any suspicious activity.

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