Most meth labs foreign owned and run by Papua New Guineans: Police


Intelligence reports detail Papua New Guinea allegedly has more than 15 methamphetamine (meth) manufacturing laboratories.

About seven of them are operating in nation’s capital with clandestine laboratories, three in Lae, Morobe Province, one in Mt Hagen, Western Highlands Province, and one in Kimbe, West New Britain Province.

These labs are operating with some good and strong connections and owned by foreigners.

It is also alleged that Papua New Guineans are the major runners for these foreign owned-meth labs which have increased over the years.

However, head of the illicit and narcotic investigation team, Acting Deputy Commissioner Donald Yamasombi said according to their intelligence reports, there are no specific locations of laboratories operating in the country.

“The country is the transit point where these drugs come and find their way out to Australia and New Zealand,” Yamasombi said.

He said the eight suspects in the Black Flight from Bulolo, Morobe Province, to Australia, were allegedly carrying 52kg of meth hidden in duffel bags on Tuesday, 21 March when they were arrested.

The estimated street value of the items is more than AUD$15 million (K35 million).

The suspects are detained at the Buimo jail and will appear in court next month.

He said the investigation is being carried out by Jepard operations led by Australian Federal Police.

Yamasombi said since the establishment of the joint operation of Saki Bomb in June, 2021, the United States Department of Homeland Security in Washington, the Australia Federal Police (AFP), PNG Police and Customs followed the shipment of the illegal consignment from US to Port Moresby, and successfully arrested and charged the suspects and referred them to court.

A reliable source said the clandestine laboratories are usually carried out secretly and run by organised gangs intending to produce illicit drugs for distribution on black market.

A gram of meth on the black market cost K2000(US$566), and the item is taken by the higher class people and slowly becoming popular with youths who are developing a taste for it.

Meth is locally produced because all its primary base are extracted from pharmaceutical drugs such as aspirin and other pain killers.

They then combine them with other chemicals to produce the final product while cocaine is derived from coca plant which is only found in South America.

“Cocaine is coming through from overseas and are being sold on the black markets,” the source said.

It has a psycho-stimulating effect, a powerful stimulant, and when taken, it produces a sense of false wellbeing and increases alertness and energy.