Papua New Guinea’s national drug squad has spent the past four weeks conducting a special operation to clamp down on international drugs-for-guns trafficking. On Monday, the drug squad, with the aid of local police, arrested nine suspects in Western Province and confiscated kilograms of marijuana packed for trading. Five others were arrested last week in related operations.
The town of Daru, Western Province was the site of all the arrests. Four people were arrested at Daru airport with 2.5kg of marijuana on August 12th, and one woman was arrested on August 8 with 8kg of the drug. Police believe that they are part of an organized ring that ships marijuana from the Highlands region to Western Province, where the drugs are traded with international dealers and local users. The international trades are usually done at sea, near the Australian and Indonesian borders.
Drug trafficking is believed to be the source of many illegal firearms being brought into PNG. The National reports that this theory is confirmed in an interview with Nebilyer Valley warriors, conducted for an ABC documentary. One of the interviewees stated, “We carry bags of dried marijuana down to the Western Province and trade them for guns and walk back to the Highlands with the guns.”
The national drug squad is attempting to close the local drug routes and identify the international traffickers. Superintendent of police Dominic Kakas told Radio New Zealand International that he believes that the trafficking in Daru is widespread enough to involve public servants and school children, in addition to villagers. Constable Robert Wane agrees with this assessment, and preliminary investigations revealed that public servants have been involved. Wane also said that people did not seem to be bothered, despite the police crackdown. He mentioned that the jail and the courthouse in Daru were in disrepair, which created an environment of increased law and order problems, including increased drug trafficking.
Please see also:
“Daru going ‘potty'” The National (15 August 2007)
“PNG police say drug trafficking in Western Province widespread” Radio New Zealand International (15 August 2007)
“Drug trafficking said to be widespread in PNG after four more arrests” Radio New Zealand International (16 August 2007)
“Western, the capital of drugs, arms deals” PNG Post-Courier (20 August 2007)
“Nine arrested for drugs deal” PNG Post-Courier (20 August 2007)