Illegal Drugs, Firearms Operations Uncovered In PNG
PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Dec. 5, 2012) – In Papua New Guinea, a major drugs-for-guns trade syndicate operating between Tari in the new Hela province and Daru in the Western province involving the use of light aircrafts was uncovered last Tuesday in Tari, Hela province.
Third level airliner Missionary Aviation Fellowship (MAF) workers in Tari become suspicious when two youths fronted up in the morning with their bags to travel to Balimo in Western province.
Tari MAF port manager Mr. David Kelawi said the two youths were rough and hasty in the manner in which they tried to book their tickets.
The youths had 29 kilograms of homegrown and dried tobacco leaves packed inside a sports bag as their only luggage.
Mr. Kelawi and his security guard Mr. Henry Angu became suspicious of the two youths and opened the sports bag to see its contents.
To their amazement, they found dried and rolled marijuana leaves packed neatly inside three empty 1 kilogram rice packets amidst the stack of tobacco leaves. They pulled out the items and reported the matter to Tari police.
The two youths, realizing that their bags were checked, dashed off into the crowd and never returned to claim their luggage.
Tari based police mobile squad 9 and general duty officers arrived and took the bag and the marijuana packets to the police station where hopefully the owners would show up to claim their goods. Police will then have them arrested or interrogated. Mr. Kelawi said MAF would ensure that all cargo and goods arriving and leaving Tari would be vigorously checked from now onwards to detect any illicit items like marijuana and guns.
Tari police believe the marijuana is worth some K200,000 [US$95,247] at street value and prices, and was primarily being smuggled to trade for high powered weapons with people in Western province who have access to illegal firearms crossing into the Papua New Guinea border from West Irian and Jayapura in Indonesia.
Tari police said with the hectic and increased activities in the Southern Highlands and Hela provinces as a consequence of the PNG LNG project, landowner leaders are using youths to smuggle in weapons by sponsoring them to take the risk of being caught via small third level airliners.
Police said they have intelligence of youths spending several days in the jungles between Hela and Western provinces trading drugs for guns.
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