File Photo: Eshan Kalyanikar

It is a known fact that Palau has been facing the methamphetamine (meth/ice) since several years now. It makes one wonder about the inner circle of the money making industry.

The official acknowledgement of methamphetamine existing in the country goes back to 1998 in the United Nations assembly where former President of Palau, Kuniwo Nakamura said, “Even in the island paradise of Palau, the horror of illegal drugs is being experienced. Palau is a small, unpopulated and closely knit society, and the drug problem is escalating. Over recent years, a new methamphetamine drug called “ice” has become a major problem.”

Max(name changed) who was a meth user and has sold meth at times said, “The street value of one gram meth is about $2000 something dollars.”

However, according to the Narcotics Enforcement Agency director, the estimated street value of ice is $1000 per gram.

Max claims that he knows of people who are working with the national government and are a part of the meth industry. He, however, adds that he doesn’t have a proof of any government official involved in the meth transactions.

“They have runners who do the selling for them,” Max said.

Max knows of one government worker in a personal capacity. However, he did not reveal the name of the person.

Although, he clarified that none of the people that he knows of are in a position to be voted but are the official workers.

“The real kingpins….I have never met any of them. But, we over hear [in the circle] that there are some very high officials.” Max said. “There are certain people who are funding the operations. They are not users; they are just the money makers,” he added.

Max also points at favoritism and claims that there are drug dealers who have connections with the police and are left alone. The people under the favored drug dealers are left alone to do, as Max puts it, “whatever they want.”

“There are other drug dealers who are getting busted so that they[officials] can look good.” Max said.

Max used to spend $500 to buy half a gram of meth and then used to sell it for about $1500. In the previous reports, Island Times had reported minors exchanging sexual favors for meth. Max reiterates that and adds that it is not only minors but also adult female who do the same.

It is something very new for Max to know that there are reports of minors using it.

“When I used to go and buy from my drug dealer, there used to be constant cars coming. He would walk down, pass it on and get his money and come back.” Max said adding “It used to be like we’re going to a store.”

He adds that the transaction used to be during the daylight.

He further said that he used to make $7000 in one night when he had “a lot of drugs” on him.

“A lot of people say that marijuana is a gateway but I disagree. I started marijuana when I was 12 or 13 and I wasn’t curious about higher drugs.” Max said. He added that it was due to peer pressure that he started using meth.

Chuckling about the absurd and odd code words like Fat Bat, Malaun or frozen fish that the dealers use, Max says that the words are often random that you can shout across the room and no would understand other than you and the dealer.

Max is scared of Chinese gangsters coming in the country to carry out their meth operations. This is because he believes Palau has the highest priced meth and according to him the word is already getting out.

Pointing at KTV bars in the country he adds that it was one of the hubs for drug trade where people went in a private room, smoked meth and struck drug deals. “Some of the girls working there used it as well,” he said.

There are bulk containers that come in the country for different companies, Max said, “It comes from the Philippines. There are certain businesses involved in the drug transactions. The person I used to run for used to collect it [drugs] from these places [containers].”

The Director of Border Security and Customs, John Tarkong Jr said that majority of the people who have tried getting meth in the country boarded the flight from Philippines.

When asked about businesses getting meth through large containers, Tarkong said “We’ve had instances where people have used legitimate business to bring in packages”

Max has heard of chatters in the inner circle that there is a person in NEA who is supporting the drug transactions in the country.

However, the NEA Director Ismael Aguon has turned this chatter in the direction of Belau Drug Enforcement Task Force that existed before NEA.

The former task force officer Kamesak Demek pleaded guilty for evidence tempering, obstructing government operations, misconduct in a the public office and possession of controlled substance.

Aguon has denied reports of any current NEA official being involved in illegal drug activities and has assured that there are unannounced drug tests conducted.

Although, Aguon acknowledged the possibility of meth coming in through containers meant for companies. Aguon has previously worked on a case of tobacco being smuggled through company containers

“One person who is smoking meth can affect five more people. Try to imagine the domino. The possibility of it going out of control is a big possibility,” Max said. (By Eshan Kalyanikar)