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Varley: Solomon Islands not an easy target for organised crime

Police Commissioner, Matthew Varley says Solomon Islands is insulated from organised crime around the world.

Varley made this sentiment at his weekly conference last Thursday, following the recent seizure of the 500 kilograms of cocaine from a yacht in Honiara the same day.

“Solomon Islands is somehow insulated from organised crime around the world, Varley said at his weekly conference, Thursday last week.

“What we know, there are often foreign vessels coming through our ports and our waters.

“We need to remain vigilant to that, only to make sure we are doing our best to target illicit crime that might be passing through our territory,” Varley added.

“Solomon Islands is not a soft or an easy target for organised criminals to exploit on their way around the world.

Varley said whether or not,we are the market or destination country for this drug is really irrelevant.

“What we know is that criminals around the world are exploiters, the loose borders and open waters of the pacific and really Solomon Islands has a role to do in making sure that is not continued and that was what we done in this operation.”

The police chief said the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force has the skills and capability to deal with this kind of issues.

He added that a plan is in place for that.

“The important plan here is, this is a real life scenario for our forensic officers to demonstrate their expertise.

“We trained long and hard for this.”

The RSIPF had recently opened up a Transnational Crime Center and the RSIPF forensic lab at the Rove Police Headquarters.

“We absolutely got the skills and the capacity to deal with this but because this is such a significant and serious operation on a world scale,” Varley further added.

He said they do have their colleagues here from Australian Federal Police (AFP) working side by side on this joint operation with the forensic side, which he said is normal in these types of operation.

“We have seen that happening other places around the pacific so this is not a question of RSIPF capability but we have to collect evidence that can be used to a standard that is producible in courts in Australia down the track as well,” he said.

Varley had described the recent seizure as a land mark operation for the RSIPF since the end of Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI).

“This is the first time the RSIPF has jointly cooperated on such a scale with international law enforcement agencies to target a truly global organised crime group.

The Australian Broadcasting Cooperation (ABC) had reported that the two men suspected to be responsible for trafficking the 500 kilograms of cocaine have been arrested on Thursday in Sydney, Australia, the same day police boarded the yacht Vieux Malin that was berthing in Honiara.

One of the men, a 41 year-old has been charged with conspiracy to import a commercial quantity of illicit drugs and dealing with money.

Another whom is a 39 year-old is being alleged to have facilitated the related money transfers.

The men are both held in custody.

Police have alleged the cocaine was loaded in South America and intended to be imported to Australia.

Varley said the cocaine was located in a cavity behind a false wall panel in the interior of the yacht.

He said Honiara was used as a transit point across the pacific.

“Our work here is a work with the Australian Authority to intervene and to disrupt and dismantle these criminal syndicates before they can land their evil trade on the shores of Australia.”

Varley told reporters the double masted yacht which is registered in Europe is an exhibit and will be dealt with in accordance with the normal legal process.

The yacht remains in police custody.

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