White powder in the blue continent

In March last year, local authorities seized 35 lbs of cocaine from the home of Robert Afaisen in Inarajan. The cocaine contained in a plastic barrel marooned into Afaisen’s beach property several weeks before the raid dubbed as “the biggest cocaine bust on Guam.” By then, the cocaine had been widely distributed, ensuing consecutive arrests of those found in possession of the white substance. The crackdown has resulted in multiple arrests and eventual convictions of drug dealers in local and federal courts.

It wasn’t an isolated incident. Prior to the Inarajan raid, the Drug Enforcement Administration reported two packages containing 4.4 lbs of cocaine washed ashore near Hawaiian Rock Products in Mangilao, and a month later, a similar package was found on Sirena Beach at Andersen Air Force Base.

_________

As early as 2003, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime identified the Blue Continent as “a strategic location” for global illicit drug trade. “It is a fact that the Pacific islands are extremely vulnerable to exploitation by drug traffickers,” the UN office declared it its 2003 report.

__________

Cocaine finds are not unique to Guam. The torrential flow of this white powder is in fact a billowing anomaly in the Pacific islands region, where fishermen now go out to sea not to catch fish but to hunt for any floating goodies.

Last year, hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of prepackaged drugs were cast ashore in these idyllic tropical islands week after week. Approximately 100 lbs of cocaine washed up on the shore in Marshall Islands. Around the same period, Papua New Guinean intercepted a boat full of cocaine in the Vitiaz Strait. Weeks later, Fiji authorities seized 20 bricks of cocaine that landed on the Fijian islands. In Federated States of Micronesia, unsuspecting residents stumbled upon 50 kilograms of cocaine floating in a lagoon, which they mistook for washing detergent.

Serious drug addictions lurk in these paradise islands, which have become a new highway for drug trafficking.