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Drug worries for the 2Samoas

American Samoa’s Deputy Treasurer, Keith Gebauer [SN file photo]

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Samoa and American Samoa are being used by foreigners who are non-Samoans to smuggle drugs into the countries. 

So claims American Samoa’s Deputy Treasurer, Keith Gebauer, in response to questions from the Samoa Observer. 

Recently, American Samoa Customs presented to a visiting delegation of various federal departments and agencies, formed under a regional task force to address the increased drug related activities throughout the Pacific.  

“Unfortunately, the use of the Post Office isn't a new avenue for the illegal transportation of drugs and contraband but an area that we are placing our resources to combat the importation,” he said.

“I will confirm that we discussed and highlighted numerous seizures of illegal drugs and contraband by Customs agents at all points of entry into the territory."  

“These included Post Office, inter-island flights, wharf and airport.  The types of contraband and illegal drugs confiscated were methamphetamine, cannabis, seeds and other types of unknown medicines."  

“We also discussed several drug-related cases pending criminal proceedings.”

He pointed to a number of incidents and seizures that involved foreign-born travelers (not from Samoa) who reach the territory through Samoa.

 “These incidents and seizures included Chinese labeled medicines (often concealed) and other undeclared contraband,” he told the Samoa Observer. 

Last year, Samoa’s Police Commissioner, Fuiavaili’ili Egon Keil admitted that Samoa is one of the gateways for the smuggling of drugs to bigger countries.  

“But it’s not just Samoa, it’s the same for Tahiti where a yacht was recently caught with a large quantity of cocaine with a street value in millions of dollars,” he said then.

At the time, the Commissioner was elaborating on the importance of having the Pacific Transnational Crime Network (P.T.C.N.) in all the Pacific Islands.  

Currently, there are 16 countries, which are members of the P.T.C.N. with the newest member being American Samoa, and their Transnational Crime Unit was officially opened last month.

Read more at Samoa Observer