The use of drones during drug operations has drastically cut down the time used in major drug operations with more farms being discovered in a short period of time in what previously would have taken days of searching and trekking.
This past week more than 14,000 marijuana plants estimated to be worth more than $40 million dollars were discovered and destroyed in Kadavu.
The first discovery was made on Monday in the hills of Gasele Village which resulted in the seizure of more than 2,900 plants weighing more than 430kg worth more than $23 million.
The second discovery made on Monday also in Gasele resulted in the seizure of more than 8,300 marijuana plants weighing more than 1,200 kg.
On Tuesday another raid conducted again in Gasele resulted in the seizure of more than 1,200 marijuana weighing more than 100kg with a street value of more than $3million.
On Thursday the same team conducted another raid at a farm located at Naikorokoro Village resulting in the seizure of close to 300 marijuana plants.
On Saturday another raid was conducted in the hills of Naivakarauniniu Village which resulted in the seizure of more than 1300 plants, while a separate raid conducted at the Nabutautau Settlement resulted in the seizure of more than 1,600 plants.
One suspect is in custody for the alleged cultivation of the marijuana found at Naivakarauniniu Village.
While only one suspect has been arrested, Police have managed to destroy the remaining farms and this has been a successful week of operations.
The marijuana plants seized during the week have all been destroyed after a court order to destroy the drugs was granted by Chief Magistrate Usaia Ratuvili who was also in Kadavu conducting island court sittings.
The use of the drones has allowed the operations team to locate the farms and hidden tracks used by its owners, which would otherwise have been harder to locate without the aerial footage.
Commissioner of Police Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho says more drones will be procured for the ongoing war on drugs.
“The drones have been a great help to the officers conducting raids and it will save us money in deploying officers for a longer period of time drug operations”.
“Previously officers would be trekking for hours and spent nights in search of farms, but now as soon as we receive information of the cultivation of marijuana we have the ability to deploy the drones and search the area in question before deploying the officers”.
With increased capabilities to fight the war on drugs, the Commissioner says Police will not give up easily on its efforts of protecting Fijians from the negative impacts drugs has on society.
“We have been given the support from Government and have the resources to deploy teams and resources when needed”.
“The Chief Operations Officer and the Divisional Police Commander South travelled to Kadavu on Friday to review and acknowledge the efforts of the officers on the ground and we will continue to focus on Kadavu as it has become one of the main red zone areas for the cultivation of marijuana”.
The Commissioner of Police has also called for public support.
“When the news of drug raids particularly regarding marijuana is made public, there’s a lot of calls to legalize the trade”.�
“We need to stop comparing Fiji to other countries because in Fiji’s context the cultivation and use of marijuana is illegal, and that is why we will continue to focus on arresting those involved in this illegal trade whether it be marijuana or other hard drugs”.
The Commissioner says families and communities are suffering and the Fiji Police Force cannot ignore the emerging threats and will continue its efforts on the war on drugs.