By BARNABAS ORERE PONDROS
CUSTOMS Commissioner Gary Juffa stressed that drug smuggling across Papua New Guinea borders to overseas was rife and PNG Customs is embarking on vigorous measures to crackdown on the syndicate that is facilitating the illegal activity.
“Hard drugs are being smuggled across our open land and sea borders and Customs will remain vigilant and support the cause to crackdown on any syndicate operating in PNG,” he said.
Mr Juffa said apart from the three containers scanners and two patrol boats, Customs will also buy a new x-ray screener for main airports.
There will also be a restructure in the Customs investigations and intelligence unit to ensure its eyes and ears are open to information and instances that may lead to busts and arrests.
Mr Juffa’s concern follows recent revelations that the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary (RPNGC) joined forces to disrupt a drug syndicate that was allegedly conspiring to import 500kg of cannabis into Australia last month.
According to an AFP spokesman, a 29-year-old New Zealand man and a 30-year-old Papua New Guinean woman appeared in the Brisbane magistrates court last Dec 14.
Another 27-year-old New Zealand man on bail will appear in the Adelaide magistrates court on Feb 26.
The RPNGC arrested a PNG national in Lae on Saturday and seized 18.9kg of cannabis that was allegedly bound for Australia.
The AFP then arrested three persons in Australia on charges of conspiring to import the dangerous drug.
Following this, the AFP executed two search warrants on residential addresses in the Brisbane suburbs of Caboolture and Burpengary, and another search warrant in the Adelaide suburb of Wyn Vale.
The AFP, assisted by Customs and border
protection, seized cannabis cultivating equipment from the
A small hydroponic crop of cannabis and amphetamine powder was seized at the Wyn Vale residence.
The arrests followed a six-month investigation by the PNG Transnational Crime Unit, a joint initiative of the AFP and RPNGC.
The investigation proved the value of co-operation between international law enforcement agencies.
“The AFP continues to work with international law enforcement partners, such as the RPNGC, to target criminals involved in the trafficking of illicit drugs through its international network.
The AFP is a partner of transnational crime units in PNG, Tonga, Fiji, Samoa, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia, combating organised crime in the region.
Also last Dec 28, the operation of a major security company in West New Britain province was placed under police scrutiny after one of its vehicles was involved in transporting a large amount of dried cannabis from the Kimbe wharf to a hideout that was later raided by police on Christmas Eve.
It was reported that the drugs were destined for Lae.
Police said the gang had connections to Lae and Port Moresby and involved a major drug syndicate.