Marijuana

6 appear in court over marijuana cultivation

Five men and a juvenile each charged with one count of unlawful cultivation of illicit drugs in the highlands of Navosa appeared in the Sigatoka Magistrates Court today. Sitiveni Sanawa, Waisale Vatanirua, Penioni Buyalevu, Semesa Banuve and Seveci Takaiwai appeared before Magistrate Tomasi Bainivalu. The juvenile who is 17-years-old who is also charged with one […]

Nacanieli Tuilevuka

June 28, 2016 3:17 pm

Five men and a juvenile each charged with one count of unlawful cultivation of illicit drugs in the highlands of Navosa appeared in the Sigatoka Magistrates Court today.

Sitiveni Sanawa, Waisale Vatanirua, Penioni Buyalevu, Semesa Banuve and Seveci Takaiwai appeared before Magistrate Tomasi Bainivalu.

The juvenile who is 17-years-old who is also charged with one count of unlawful cultivation of illicit drugs has been bailed for the sum of $1,000.

The Commissioner of Police Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho has again stressed the Force’s focus on drugs will continue.

“We will never take our foot of the pedal with regards to our drug operations. It’s not good for society and we will keep on with our operations with regards to the eradication of drugs.”

The five have been further remanded in custody till their next court hearing scheduled for the 8th of July.

Eight more people will be produced at the Sigatoka Magistrates Court today for their alleged involvement in the cultivation of marijuana in the highlands Navosa.

In a statement, Police Chief of Intelligence and Investigations, ACP Luke Navela said the eight have all been charged with unlawful cultivation of illicit drugs.

ACP Navela said that in a special court sitting over the weekend three men appeared before Magistrate Tomasi Bainivalu all charged with unlawful cultivation of illicit drugs.

Sakiusa Balenavatu was charged with two counts while Semi Nauca and Maciu Libu have both been charged with one count each.

All three have been remanded in custody and their next court hearing will be on the 8th of July, 2016.

ACP Navela said this latest development was possible with the assistance of members of the community who made 11 citizen arrests last week.

Five more men have been arrested by Police yesterday as part of “Operation Cavuraka” in the highlands of Navosa.

This has been confirmed by Police Chief of Intelligence and Investigations, ACP Luke Navela.

ACP Navela said the men are in custody at the Keyasi Police Station and are soon to be questioned by Police.

ACP Navela said further investigations are underway.

Meanwhile, four man charged with unlawful cultivation of illicit drugs in the Navosa highlands have been handed prison sentences in relation to the cultivation of marijuana in the Navosa highlands.

Iliesa Soqali, Savenaca Kulanisa, Serupepeli Wesivakarua and Salesi Tukana appeared before Magistrate Tomasi Bainivalu pleaded guilty to the unlawful cultivation of illicit drugs have been sentenced to eight months imprisonment.

While, Serupepeli Wesivakarua has been sentenced to six months imprisonment.

The other six who are in remand at Natabua Correction Center Facility will reappear in court on July 4th.

They are Apolosi Kurikoro, Tomasi Tubunibua, Semi Tabaiwalu, Kuridroa Kolikoli, Mikaele Sovea and Jone Kolikoli.

They have pleaded not guilty to their charges.

Ten men charged with Unlawful Cultivation of Illicit Drugs contrary to section 5 (a) of the Illicit Drug Control Act 2004 appeared at the Sigatoka Magistrates Court today.

The ten accused persons appeared before Magistrate Tomasi Bainivalu.

Four of the ten accused Iliesa Soqali, Savenaca Kulanisa, Serupepeli Wesivakarua and Salesi Tukana have pleaded guilty to the unlawful Cultivation of Illicit Drugs have been remanded at the Sigatoka Police Station and will be sentenced tomorrow.

The remaining six Apolosi Kurikoro, Tomasi Tubunibua, Semi Tabaiwalu, Kuridroa Kolikoli, Mikaele Sovea and Jone Kolikoli pleaded not guilty and have been remanded in Natabua to re-appear in court on the 4th of July.

ACP Luke Navela told Newswire that the eleventh accused did not appear in court because his charges are yet to be adjusted.

Eleven men will appear at the Sigatoka Magistrates Court this afternoon for their alleged involvement in the cultivation of marijuana in the highlands of Navosa.

ACP Luke Navela at a press conference in Suva ealier this year. (Newswire)
ACP Luke Navela at a press conference in Suva ealier this year. (Newswire)

This was confirmed to Newswire by the Chief of Intelligence and Investigations ACP Luke Navela.

NAVELA: “I just received a confirmation now that eleven men will be appearing at the Sigatoka Magistrates Court this afternoon.”

ACP Navela said the men are charged with “Possession of Drugs”, “Cultivation of Drugs”, and other related charges.

NAVELA: “They are charged with charges related to drugs, some charged with possession, cultivation, and other related charges.”

ACP Navela said “Operation Cavuraka” continues and more officers continue their efforts in locating the farms.

A nine-hour trek by officers from both the Fiji Police Force and Republic of Fiji Military Forces discovered a farm where more than 17,000 marijuana plants were being cultivated.

A nursery at one of the farms raided in the interior of Navosa. (Fiji Police Force)
A nursery at one of the farms raided in the interior of Navosa. (Fiji Police Force)

“Operation Cavuraka” has entered its fifth day and more than 30,000 marijuana plants have been found on twelve separate farms.

Chief of Intelligence and Investigations Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Luke Navela who visited the team today said the morale of the officers is high as they continue their efforts in locating the farms.

NAVELA: “As the Commissioner of Police has reiterated, no matter how far these farmers will go to hide what they’re doing, we will get to them.”

Another nursery at one of the farms raided in the interior of Navosa by the officers. (Fiji Police Force)
Another nursery at one of the farms raided in the interior of Navosa by the officers. (Fiji Police Force)

ACP Navela said majority of the farms located had plants which were young and most had nurseries.

NAVELA: “Plants found range from 2cm to over 1 meters in height and we know their modus operandi so we will continue to comb these highlands until we have sent the message that there is no justification for this illegal activity”.

A team rests before they continue as they try to locate marijuana farms in the interior of Navosa. (Fiji Police Force)
A team rests before they continue as they try to locate marijuana farms in the interior of Navosa. (Fiji Police Force)

At the same time a team is currently working to identify the farmers as well as track down on the proceeds of crime and those who have or are benefiting from the drug trade.

More than three thousand one hundred marijuana plants ranging from a height of 2cm to over 1meters in height were uprooted from the farms in the highlands of Navosa.

Police officers ready to destroy plants after analysis has been conducted. (Fiji Police Force)
Police officers ready to destroy plants after analysis has been conducted. (Fiji Police Force)

A joint operation called “Operation Cavuraka” between the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) and the Fiji Police Force (FPF) was involved in the drug raid.

Fiji Police Chief of Intelligence and Investigations Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Luke Navela told Newswire that the operation consists of fifty officers and the mission is to track down those cultivating the illegal drug and that farmers are now moving and farming further in land in more treacherous terrains.

NAVELA: “The farms are located in extremely hard to reach places and our men have trekked for hours and over the weekend, teams slept in the rain all in a bid to to locate these farms. We have identified quite a few farms.”

A police officer sets fire to the uprooted marijuana plants at one of the farms. (Fiji Police Force)
A police officer sets fire to the uprooted marijuana plants at one of the farms. (Fiji Police Force)

NAVELA: “The operation is a joint operation between the police and the military. The mission of this operation is track down all those involve in cultivating drug. The operation is for two weeks. We just started with the operation this weekend. It might take an extra week depending on how many farms we will need to uproot.”

ACP Navela said they were accompanied by a group of government analyst so that tests were conducted before the plants were destroyed.

Government Analyst Sakiusa Biaukula weighs and alalysis the plants at the sight of one of the farms in the highlands of Navosa. (Fiji Police Force)
Government Analyst Sakiusa Biaukula weighs and analysis the plants at the sight of one of the farms in the highlands of Navosa. (Fiji Police Force)

NAVELA: “One of the teams has destroyed what seemed to be a nursery where young seedlings were discovered, and this is an indication of how farmers have an intricate operation going on. The team are in the highlands tracking down more drugs farms. They are accompanied by a team of government analyst, they are there to conduct tests before the plants are uprooted. The team will be in the highlands for a few days and they will be moving down soon.”

He adds the officers have been briefed on the mission and that is to locate and destroy the farms.

NAVELA: “While a team is combing the highlands, another team is conducting investigations with regards to those we believe to be involved in this trade and looking into the proceeds of crime. The Commissioner of Police has said he wants to send a strong message to those in the drug business, that we will get to them and this is what our officers are focused on.”

ACP Navela warned those involved in the cultivation of marijuana that they will be apprehended, charged and taken to court.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with information from the Fiji Police Force.

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