Search for four more locals continues, says Manning
By MIRIAM ZARRIGA
FOUR men are in police custody over their alleged involvement in the recent K160 million drug bust in Port Moresby, Police Commissioner David Manning says.
The four, who told police that they were involved in the loading of more than 600kg of cocaine onto the small aircraft flown in by Australian pilot David John Cutmore without any clearance, were part of the eight locals police had been looking for.
They are being kept at an undisclosed location in the National Capital District and yet to be charged.
Manning said two of them were arrested at a lodge located in the Papa and Lealea villages.
“Search warrants were raised and raids were carried out at the villages,” he said.
He said a third man was taken into police custody last Friday at the Manu Autoport, and a fourth at a lodge in the area.
Police found AU$40,000 (K100,107.86) in cash on them, plus electronic items reportedly brought in the aircraft.
Manning said pilot Cutmore, who was fined K3,000 by a court in Waigani for illegal entry under the Migration Act 1978, could be deported.
“(We) are co-operating with Australia to have him deported,” Manning said.
Prime Minister James Marape had instructed police not to allow him out of the country until all investigations were completed.
Cutmore took police to the crash site and re-constructed the crime scene. Police then obtained search warrants from the court.
The four men in custody later showed police where they had hidden the 28 bags of cocaine, weighing 23 kg each.
Both police forces are working together to arrest all who were of the plan to take drugs into Australia.
“This investigations are continuing,” Manning said.
“We have identified other persons of interests but we will not disclose any information until we have completed investigations.”
The four PNG men arrested so far told police that their role was to load the 28 bags on to the Cessna 402C aircraft. But the aircraft failed to take off at the un-gazetted airstrip outside Port Moresby.
Cutmore told police earlier that the eight men who met him when he arrived on Sunday July 26 were unknown to him.
They assisted him in loading the 28 bags before he tried to take off.
Cutmore handed over to them three television sets he had brought with him, three play stations and three packages containing cash.
The aircraft crashed at the end of the airstrip when it failed to lift off.
He was rescued by the men who took him to Port Moresby and booked him at a lodge.
Cutmore presented himself to the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby on Tuesday