Harsh penalty for drug dealers

Gulf Police have warned people in the drug business that the justice system will not be lenient on persons found guilty of this illegal activity.

Provincial Police Commander, Chief Inspector Jeffrey Lemb said Gulf police has its share of problems like shortage of manpower and resources, but will strive to maintain law and order with the logistics available.

On April 10, 2024, the Kerema District Court sentenced 12 men all from the Highlands region, who face a total of 281 years in jail for drug offenses ranging from facilitating, conveying/transporting to selling and distributing controlled substances (marijuana/cannabis sativa).

Seven were charged with conveying controlled substances under the Controlled Substances Act 2021, and sentenced to 30 years imprisonment at the Bomana prison in Port Moresby. While five were charged for selling and distributing the drugs. They were given lesser penalties by the court based on the amount they were dealing with; and had given an additional 10 years but to be served concurrently.

The 12 suspects were caught between 26th January and 1st March 2024, in Kikori District when moving drugs from the Highlands region into Gulf through Kikori. The drugs were packaged in traveling bags, industrial buckets, medicine plastics and wrapped in foil as K2 packs.

A 40-horse-powered motor and dinghy was confiscated during the arrest, which was supposed to be used to ferry the drugs to Kerema and make its way into Port Moresby.

“We have very dedicated personnel who stop at nothing to ensure that the bad people in society are caught, dealt with, and put away from society. Especially Kikori Police Station personnel who have tirelessly worked night and day to put this group of criminals behind bars.

“The current Senior Provincial Magistrate Francis Figu was a firm administrator of justice. He has shown in this instance that people who deliberately break laws to earn a living in this country must be dealt with strongly so that the message gets across to those who are dealing with dangerous drugs and those future dealers can be deterred,” stated Chief Inspector Lemb.

This is the second biggest drug bust in the province, the first being in 2023.

“All offenses to do with drugs would be under the new Controlled Substances Act 2021. Unlike the previous drug laws, this one carries penalties rivalling those of rape and murder. On this occasion, seven people got 30 years each for conveying huge amounts of marijuana.

“The first drug cases saw a combined conviction years exceeding 300 years in imprisonment. The current accumulative total for this court sentence is 281 years for the 12 defendants. As anyone can see, Gulf Province is not a favorable place to do the illegal drug business. They can either quit or take their business elsewhere,” warned Chief Inspector Lemb.

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