19 Jul 2019

Fijian drug taskforce gets US help

10:34 am on 19 July 2019

A US State Department official is warning Fiji that clandestine methamphetamine labs are operating in the country.

Crystal meth

Photo: Wiki Commons

The US Diplomatic Security Service Special Agent said Fijians and foreign nationals are producing the drug for local and overseas markets.

Agent Billy Lewis has been helping Fijian authorities combat the recent uptick of meth in the island nation.

Mr Lewis, who is based at the American Embassy in Suva, said he has been working with the Fiji police force's newly-commissioned southern division drug taskforce.

"And working with the specialty units on the awareness of the drug, the physiology of the drug, how it affects the human body, the signs and symptoms that a police officer would observe when they are responding to a scene, a call, what they need to be aware of, calm as enough when they're talking to individuals that are under the influence of meth."

Special Agent Lewis also conducted a drug awareness session with students of Marist Brothers High School in the capital Suva last week.

At the session, parents shared their experiences with the students, he said.

Parents talked about how they were helping their teenagers deal with meth addiction, he added.

A Fiji National Substance Abuse and Advisory Council report showed there were 1634 cases of drugs and substance abuse in schools last year compared to 1197 cases in 2017.

Of last year's cases, 417 were reported in primary schools and 1217 in secondary schools, it said.

The report found the highest number of cases, which was 434, were reported in schools in Suva.

It said 738 of the cases involved students smoking cigarettes, 301 of the cases involved students sniffing glue while there were 118 cases of students smoking marijuana.

There were 11 cases of students dealing drugs in schools, the report found.

Last September, 40 police and customs officers participated in a US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) training.

In February this year, Fiji police found a meth lab in a nightclub in the tourist town of Nadi.

Small-scale meth labs were also found in 2013 and 2015 in the capital Suva.

A methamphetamine factory was also found on the outskirts of the capital in 2004.

Police had said chemicals found in the factory were enough to produce 2200 pounds of crystal meth.

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