Senior Tonga Reserve Bank Official named in $15 million drug bust

Drug squad seized over 15kg of methamphetamine in Operation Feke in raids in Nuku’alofa on 10-11 February 2024 (Photo: Tonga Police)

A senior Tonga Reserve bank official, Tēvita Nonu Kolokihakaufisi appeared together with his sister, ‘Ana Longolongo Kolokihakaufisi at the Magistrate’s Court in Nuku’alofa Monday on charges related to a haul of 15.657kg of methamphetamine seized by Police on the weekend.

Tonga Police estimated the street value of the seized illicit drugs at TOP$15 million(US$6.3 million).

Tēvita Kolokihakaufisi is a senior official who works for the National Reserve Bank of Tonga (NRBT). Tevita and sister ‘Ana, were arrested by Police on Saturday, 10 February 2024 with 5.73kg of the illicit drug at their family residence at Kolofo’ou, while a further 9.927kg was seized from Tēvita’s office at the National Reserve Bank of Tonga on Sunday, 11 February 2024, Tonga Police stated.

Two defence counsel, who appeared for the siblings, sought bail for ‘Ana based on a letter from a doctor that was issued in 2015, indicating a previous mental health condition. The bail application was denied by Magistrate Ane Tāvō Mailangi, due to time lapsed since the medical report was issued, and the Magistrate suggested for a more recent medical evaluation for the court to consider.

Magistrate Mailangi ordered for both accused persons to remain in police custody and to return to court on Friday, 16 February 2024.

Commissioner of Police Shane McLennan stated: “In continuing to work towards achieving our goals of Safe Homes, Safe Roads, and Safe Communities, Tonga Police will persist in targeting and working to disrupt and detect those responsible for placing our youths and communities in harm’s way through the supply of illicit drugs, and hold them to account.”

Police said investigations were ongoing into the large seizure of illicit drugs in Tonga. Under Tonga’s Illicit Drugs Control Act, the penalty for possession of a Class A drug in the quantity of 5 kilograms or more, is a sentence of life imprisonment.