Ni Sa Bula Vinaka. Good morning. I am so pleased to be here with the Police Commissioner, our trainers from the Drug Enforcement Administration, or DEA, and all of the police and customs officers who will be participating in this training.
We are honored to be hosting this training which will make Fiji much more effective in our joint fight against illicit and dangerous drugs in the South Pacific. This training is the result of collaboration and close cooperation between our two nations. I’d like to especially thank BG Qiliho for co-hosting this event and for his personal leadership on the issue. You spoke from the heart, General, in your remarks just now, and I share your desire to ensure methamphetamine abuse does not claim any more victims in Fiji.
The origins of this training came in April of this year while General Qiliho and I were signing the International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) Fiji Police Peacekeeping Letter of Agreement (LOA). At that time, the Police Commissioner asked me if the United States could provide some specific training to combat the spread of methamphetamine in Fiji and surrounding island nations. Our security team at the Embassy recognized the need for capacity building in chemical drug investigations and began coordinating with the DEA. Together, the U.S. Embassy, regional DEA offices, and the Fiji Police Forces developed and arranged this course, which aims to share best practices in investigating, seizing, preventing, and combatting methamphetamines.
As General Qiliho has noted, Fiji has seen a dramatic increase in the presence of drug activity and trafficking in the region, which includes hard drugs such as methamphetamine and cocaine. The manufacturing of illicit drugs poses unique and grave threats to populations throughout the world and especially to Pacific island countries such as Fiji and Tonga. The United States is not immune. We have a long and tragic experience with these drugs, which have ripped through communities in the United States.
Through this, our law enforcement officers – the DEA in particular – has developed a wealth of expertise, sometimes at great cost. Through this training, participants will learn proper investigative procedures for searching laboratories and how to identify chemical product supplies being purchased and used for the production of illicit drugs. The chemicals involved are dangerous and volatile, and we place a real premium on safety. With this in mind, instructors will teach students how to properly use Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE, for officer safety during investigations. Following graduation from the course, each student will be given a complete PPE kit worth $250 USD that they will use in their efforts to investigate methamphetamine production facilities and interrupt trafficking routes.
I want to thank the students participating in this course from the Fiji Police Force (FPF) and Fiji Customs who are already actively cooperating with the DEA and other neighboring countries to improve efforts to combat drug trafficking.
I am also pleased to announce that a team will visit Fiji at the end of October to finalize preparations for the training up of the Police Special Response Unit (PSRU) and conduct consultations for the Police Peacekeeping Training Course. The training will begin on November 5 with a three-week long Trainer Development Course followed by a three-week long UN Command Staff Course as well. In addition to the training instructors, the United States will also be funding a full-time permanent advisor from the UN to embed with the PSRU for the duration of the pre-deployment training.
Thank you again for participating in this training as I know it will benefit both of our countries and populations. I urge you to make the most of the experience and the trainers’ expertise during this course on Precursor Chemical Investigations.