A 59-year-old man was arrested at Tonga’s International Airport last night, after Police and Customs seized 1.9 kilograms of methamphetamine with an estimated street value of around $2 million Tongan dollars (about NZD 1.29 million).
The Tongan national, who lives in the Kingdom, was arrested last night as he waited in the departure area to board an Air New Zealand flight to Auckland due to depart at 9:55pm.
Acting Chief Superintendent Tevita Vailea, Central Police Station, speaking to media today, says the drugs were in the suspect’s possession when police arrested him.
Also seized, says Mr Vailea, was cash in different currencies with an approximate value of $10,000 in Tongan dollars. “It is clear that the suspect intended to smuggle the drugs out from Tonga to New Zealand,” he says.
“This seizure sends a clear message that Police, along with partner agencies will continue to work together to disrupt the supply of illicit drugs. We can never emphasize enough that meth like any other illicit drugs is causing significant harm in our communities and we continue to encourage anyone who has information that will assist us in catching those responsible to contact us.”
“Police will continue to work with the community to prevent the harm illicit drugs
cause and the ongoing criminal activity associated with their use and distribution.”
“Those with any information on drug-related offending or suspicious activities are
encouraged to speak in confidence to an officer at their local Police station.”
The suspect has been charged with possession of illicit drugs and remains in police custody. The police investigation continues.
In 2016, the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) released a report on the Pacific region, in partnership with the Pacific Islands Forum, that identified organised crime linked to drug trafficking as the major law enforcement issue for Pacific island nations. This is followed by human trafficking and migrant smuggling, environmental crimes and small arms trafficking.