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RAROTONGA, 23 DECEMBER 2019  — Success of a combined operation strengthens resolve to target drugs.

Six people in the Cook Islands and New Zealand have been charged with offences involving drugs and a gun.

The six were arrested as a result of coordinated operations by police in both countries targeting transnational organised crime.

Three arrests were made in the Cook Islands and three in New Zealand.

Charges laid included participation in an organised criminal group, possession of a firearm, supply of Class C drugs (cannabis) and possession of drug utensils.

The three people arrested in Cook Islands were arrested on Friday December 13 and prosecuted the next day. They appeared in court on drug-related charges.

Following their court appearance, they were bailed by the court despite Police Prosecution requests for remand in custody while investigations continue.

However, special bail conditions apply and the trio are unable to leave Rarotonga. The three entered no plea and will reappear in court on January 23, 2020.

Cook Islands Police Service Chief, Commissioner Maara Tetava says police are committed to making the Cook Islands a hostile environment for those involved in organised crime, including anyone who wants to peddle illegal drugs.

He says partnering with other law enforcement agencies, like the Cook Islands Financial Intelligence Unit and New Zealand Police, is an important part of his strategy to target and dismantle organised crime groups.

“The value of cross-border cooperation and genuine partnership is evidenced by the success of this operation.”

New Zealand Police Assistant Commissioner Richard Chambers says targeting transnational organised crime in the Pacific continues to be a priority for New Zealand Police.

“Regional cooperation and information sharing is key to preventing and disrupting criminal activity, and for prosecuting those who seek to profit from the harm their activities bring to our communities,” Chambers says.

“We will build on recent successes by continuing to partner with our Pacific Island colleagues to keep targeting transnational organised crime groups.”….(PACNEWS)