PNG sitting on time bomb regarding synthetic drugs

PNG meth flight
Photo: Australian Federal Police

Papua New Guinea is sitting on a ticking bomb regarding the selling and consumption of synthetic drugs, says a senior policeman in charge of the fight against drugs.

Donald Yamasombi, head of the illicit and narcotics investigations team, said the recent seizures of 500kg of cocaine, 245kg of methamphetamine, K11,400 (US$3,237) in demonetised fake money and the presence of an international prostitution operation, all within three years, is a serious cause for concern.

He said the country will be controlled by drug addicts and drugs and prostitution syndicates.

He was speaking at a national security seminar at the National Research Institute in Port Moresby last week.

He said more people are going into synthetic drugs such as meth and cocaine, which are brought in from outside.

In the process of moving and selling these dangerous drugs, many other laws of the country are broken.

But that is not the only concern.

The constabulary is also struggling to contain these serious crimes.

“And there are a lot of challenges we still face with investigations and prosecutions within the constabulary,” he said.

“We are more reactive rather than proactive. We need a team that can move swiftly instead of waiting for a crime to occur.”

He said police also lack intelligence and data on organised crime syndicates in the country and the region on how different crimes are committed and their cultures in which they thrive.

He said police also lack expertise on analysing substances in credible or certified laboratories.

Meanwhile, a senior police officer has called for mandatory drug tests as the NCD and Central police command has been hard hit with the trade and consumption of methamphetamine among its officers.

NCD/Central divisional commander Anthony Wagambie Jr said this and confirmed that the dangerous drug known as meth has hit the streets of Port Moresby.

“This is one of my worst fears. The illegal synthetic drug is a very potent and addictive drug which has worrying effects on the well being of the user,” he said.

“I will not hide the fact that certain rogue elements within the constabulary, more specifically and rampant in the NCD/Central command, have been facilitating the trade and also have become consumers.

“The actions by a few rogue elements are tarnishing the (image of the) constabulary and its members.

“We have to be trusted by the community and to do that we have to win back that trust and we need to weed out the drug dealers and users within the constabulary.

“So far arrests have been made on certain individuals by the special investigation team from Police HQ and national drug and vice squad. My office has been supporting this operation by utilising NCD internal investigations unit.

“Our police legal team will have to create a policy around this.

This is a new and emerging challenge we are facing in the constabulary and country as a whole.

“I have mobilised the majority of members for us to crack down on drug addicted personnel who have become traders. This is very dangerous not only for themselves but for their families, the public and other police personnel.

“I have reached a consensus among my senior officers that we should have a mandatory testing of all personnel. “I have made this known to our Deputy Commissioners and Commissioner of Police that we request for mandatory testing to be done,” he said.

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