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Fiji police seize 80 packets heroin worth $18.5m

Fiji police seize 80 packets heroin worth $18.5m

SUVA:  police have seized 80 packets of heroin worth $18.5 million that were concealed in the tyres of a quad bike sent from Thailand.

They arrested Nadi businessman Mohammed Shaheed Khan, 40, a joint Australian and Fijian citizen, on a charge of importing the drugs.

Mr Khan was denied bail and name suppression was also refused, and he has been remanded in custody until January 14.

Acting Police Commissioner Isikeli Vuniwaqa said the interception of the drugs, on Lautoka wharf, was the result of work by the police and the Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority.

The agencies are now working with authorities in Thailand, Laos and Australia.

“Let this be a warning to those thinking that Fiji is a country that you can use to trade or to transship drugs,” he said. “Think again, as we are closely monitoring our borders.”

In 2012, judge Daniel Goundar said in sentencing two men, ­arrested at Nadi airport, to 11½ years and 10 years in jail for attempting to smuggle cocaine to Australia. “Any punishment for dealing in hard drugs must reflect the vulnerability of Fiji becoming a hub for international drug-smugglers,” he said at the time.

Immigration, National Security and Defence Minister Timoci Netuva said this year Fiji “remains susceptible to lucrative and multifaceted crimes such as illicit drug trafficking, trafficking in persons, money-laundering, cyber ­activ­ities, identity theft, illegal fishing and terrorism given the porous nature of our borders and our limited resources.”

A decade ago, collaboration by Australian, New Zealand and Fiji police led to the seizure of a massive methamphetamine factory in warehouses on the outskirts of Suva, the capital — containing drugs worth $800m.

Her husband, Jason Zhong, who was then jailed for three years and seven months, was two years ago sentenced again, for 11 years and nine months, on two counts of sexual servitude involving three Thai women brought to Fiji for sexual services, mainly to tourists.