Fishing for drug barons

No one is suggesting that we go the Philippines way though some people would gleefully lay their hands on criminals…

By Nita Chicooree-Mercier

Nanette Castillo grieves next to the dead body of her son Aldrin, an alleged drug dealer in the Philippines

Judging from a news release, SAJ is extremely exasperated by the continuous drug trafficking plaguing the country. If his hands were not tied by international consensus on human rights, he would have gladly brought back the death penalty and watched the criminals gasp for their last breath at the gallows. A statement which is in keeping with his personality and character. No beating about the bush, straightforward and blunt. His exasperation is understandable.

The super catch at Coin de Mire has been in all conversations these days. 110 kgs of heroine for the pretty sum of around 1 billion 800 million rupees! Probably the biggest catch in the history of drugs in Mauritius. Coin de Mire is usually associated with endemic birds, plants, eco-friendly visits, and the beautiful deep blue waters of the wide sea, Flat Island further back on the left, Ilot Gabriel on the right, loads of lobsters, murene and a variety of fishes and most lovely corals. A favourite seaview at walking distance from one’s place, a real blessing.

Far away in the distance, local counterparts of Joaquin Guzman ‘Al Chapo’, the most significant drug lord in history, are busy scheming to flood the island with a most destructive substance that damages the brain, alters brain chemistry, causes paranoia and fatal addiction. The news summons vision of youths totally stoned, high on an artificial paradise, walking like zombies, shadows of their former selves. Total wrecks – for the self-enrichment of a handful of drug lords.

SAJ’s exasperation is shared by one and all. Downright revolting and stupefying. Those shouting themselves hoarse on social media will have to tone down.

SAJ is not Rodrigo Duterte and Mauritius is not the Philippines where the people were given carte blanche to spot out drug dealers and kill them, which led folks to drag their neighbors out of their bed in the middle of the night and finish them off.

International opinion was alarmed by the random killings of 250 people in the first months following the presidential decision in 2016. Over there, the public has enough of the drug scourge that is destroying the younger generation for the benefit of a few ruthless people. So do we here as well.

Neither is SAJ a Saudi monarch who blows hot and cold in his lands, and hot like hell for even the mildest criticism leveled at the royal rulers. Over there, international consensus is not their cup of tea, however much they agree to UN investigation in human rights but according to their own laws.

So what can SAJ do to crush down drug trafficking a year before general election? A lot. For people believed in 2014 that his no-nonsense approach would be the magic wand to ward off and deter evil doers. The Drug Commission entrusted to former Judge Lam Shang Leen in 2015 raised hope for a tough war against drug dealers. What is causing obstruction for investigators to lay hands on the real culprits behind the sophisticated network of importers, distributors, peddlers and consumers?

Is Mr Paul Lam Shang Leen free to give out names of drug lords? Does he have the names in the first place? Are there too many corrupt officials at different levels amid the army of functionaries who are obstacles to the right conduct of inquiries? How far do dealers detained in prison cooperate?

The case of three brothers in a village in the north who were found making drugs in a lab was finally dropped to everyone’s surprise. And the reason was that the substance was not a drug after all. The news almost choked us. How come drug barons are hounded and found out in advanced countries?

The present government’s commitment to fight tooth and nail against drug traffickingis unquestionable and is indeed appreciated by the public. SAJ should tell the people what is really happening.

 * * *

The trio of boatmen and fishermen sailing the high seas to Pointe aux Piments and whose boat drifted to Coin de Mire are small fry in the big pot. Congratulate the National Coast Guard just as we lauded ADSU for its catch in the Triolet lab. And that’s it. Will the big wigs ever be dragged from their hidings and publicly denounced?

Already in the 80s, news was aired in the north to the effect that the owner of a yacht, the black sheep of an otherwise respectable family took regular trips to Reunion island in a drug trafficking business at a time when there was no National Coast Guard. He was not bothered by anyone for years. It took years for the Police Commissioner to transfer a so-called CID in the Northern Division, an uneducated illiterate fellow, who it was alleged had been taking bribes from just anyone to cover up everything – robbery, burglary, crime, gandia peddlers, you name it. The man was the most corrupt police official you could have met. He was utterly ruthless, shameless and abysmally greedy.

Right now, on a daily basis some ice-cream vendors driving along a popular beach in the North – somewhere near Choisy — are said to be drug peddlers. After sunset when birds noisily gather before settling themselves comfortably in their nests and filao trees are swathed in darkness, the lingering presence of the ice-cream vendors aroused suspicion. Two or three vendors in their vans for hardly two families around. Very simply, a flow of drug customers shows up in the dark and get their supply of drugs. Word goes around that some of the law enforcement agents from the nearby station take their share of bribes.

No one is suggesting that we go the Philippines way though some people would gleefully lay their hands on criminals… But finally, public help should be encouraged to denounce drug traffickers. Report to whom? ADSU, most likely. SAJ and the government know fully well that the public cannot be let down on the key issue of drug trafficking. Drug barons will obtain no mercy; if ever they are identified, judged and condemned, the public verdict will be: Let them fry.

* Published in print edition on 9 November 2018

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