MY SAY : Once In A While Drug Raids Will Not Stop It

About the author:

Mataeliga Pio Sioa, Newsline Samoa newspaper editor. A veteran journalist in broadcast and print media.

  • High powered rifle and a submachine gun were among the illegal weapons from an earlier police drug
    High powered rifle and a submachine gun were among the illegal weapons from an earlier police drug

The Friday police drug raid at Faleatiu was a must.   But it’s not enough to sweep across the village farming backyard now and then?

Lives are at risk for everyone…the police tactical squad , village residents and even the innocent bystanders, when these armed attacks are carried out.

Faleatiu has built a notorious and feared reputation as the main village supplier of the illegal drug marijuana.

Earlier police drug raids and prison convictions of growers earned them that infamous status.

 Intimidating stories about armed family growers and elaborate security system to keep the police out of the plantations are circulated.  

The stories are obviously inflated but it builds on the notoriety of the village reputation.

This is not good and serious attempts must be made to deflate it as quickly and effectively as possible.

What you don’t want are neighbouring villages given the impression that Faleatiu is virtually free to benefit from their criminal activities.

The worst is when the police are perceived to be fearful for their safety; it encourages the Faleatiu lawlessness to spread to its village neighbours.

Might be worth noting if the marijuana plantations raided were all from Faleatiu.

This is where the biggest threat to law and order lies.  When other surrounding villages see Faleatiu get away with their lawlessness, not to mention the financial benefits of operating outside the law, they are bound to follow their example.

The longer the law enforcement authority allows the Faleatiu lawlessness to continue and be seen as fearful of the village, the worst the situation develops.

It is doubtful if the police raid has cleared every plantation in the village.  There have been other raids before.

This latest one is largely reported as the biggest drug bust ever.

Here is the point!  How did the growers manage to grow more marijuana plants if they were supposed to be cleared from earlier raids?

Looking at it from another perspective, where is the traditional authority of the village chiefs?  Are they keeping law and order as part of the Samoan culture we love to boast to the world about?

Maybe the leadership authority of Faleatiu is practicing the ‘ether you’re with us or against us’ philosophy’ we hear so much about with our politicians.

If the village is against the law then they are against us.  If so then the culture is definitely rotting in the village barrel.

Where is the alarm on the rot spreading out, if not already, as we are starting to see with neighbouring villages?

The more this decay is allowed to fester, with only a cursory reaction like a drug raid now and then, the bigger the danger grows of lawlessness taking over our stability as a lawful nation.

Damages to our proud image and the ensuing fall out will be serious.

What donor partner will want to invest in our national developments if we are a country that is helpless against lawlessness?

As far as Faleatiu is concerned, it is time for our law enforcements to look into a more consistent, longterm monitoring system to effectively close down this drug hot bed.

Start by working with the chiefs and orators of Faleatiu.  If they are genuinely concerned about the safety of the village not to mention its good image, they will agree readily to work with the police.

It is also the best way for the police to determine the strength of the traditional leadership in the village. 

Commissioner Fuiavailili should have the sharp sense of a police officer to find out if the village leaders are a true ally or not.

Make regular inspections of the plantation in the village outback where they made their raid.

They have just cleared out the plantations. If the growers are going right back to replanting the next crop, how long does it take from the time of the raid until the next harvest.

The closer to harvest time the better it is to mount a combined inspection with the village chiefs and orators to start with.

In future they should vary their inspection timing so it will be difficult for the growers to set a harvest timing rhythm to avoid detection.

Growers should be brought before the village and banished.  If the police decides to press criminal charges let it be so.

An environment must be created in the village to make life extremely difficult and legally hazardous for growers.

Make the example for Faleatiu visible enough for all the other surrounding villages to take serious note.

If there are any other options better than these take them.    

The Commissioner’s foot is already on the drug fighting pedal.  Step on it.

 For all our sakes as law abiding citizens and for the stability of our paradise, floor that damn pedal.

Do something other than one off drug raids at gunpoint where the risks of being shot are higher.

Better to be an eyesore to the growers as regular illegal drug inspectors then walking cross-hair targets on once in a while police raids.