The former policeman and politician says that’s because the “cartels” dealing drugs in the Cook Islands are taking advantage of lax border controls and slack policing to bring in foreign currency for safekeeping and laundering in the Cook Islands.
In a letter to CINews, George said as the Cabinet minister who had been responsible in the early 2000s for getting the first drug dogs brought to the Cook Islands from New Zealand, he considered himself qualified to speak on the subject.
“I write to offer some strategic thinking to those running our police service today. It is relation to their new drug dog,” George said.
“Change it to a currency-sniffing dog. Drug dogs are not trained to sniff paper currency. Not only do we have drug dealers importing drugs into the country today, but the same people are bringing in foreign paper currency from New Zealand, the UK, the USA and Australia.”
George, a self-described, “proud no-nonsense ex-Auckland cop”, claimed to know of “at least three” drug cartels operating successfully in the Cook Islands.
“The oldest would have operating for between 20 to 30 years,” he said.
“Why are they successful? Because the police are hopelessly outsmarted and severely compromised. There are police and Customs insiders who leak information to the dealers and are paid for their services.”
No serious investigation was being done into drug dealing in the country, despite plenty of information being fed to the police, George claimed.
Offering “some helpful suggestions” to the Cook Islands Police Service, George said the the head of CIB currently handled “everything” himself. He needs to delegate. There should be a separate drug squad, doing nothing but drug work.
“I believe that according to its new election manifesto, the Democratic Party is planning to set up a Serious Crime and Corruption Bureau. It will only work if it is not part of the Police Service as we know it today.”
Echoing concerns expressed by former Warrant of Fitness chairman Eric Short and the Road Safety Council’s Brent Fisher, George said other problems within the police service include the fact that Police Commissioner Maara Tetava could seldom be contacted by phone.
“They have office meetings every day from 9am-11am. More meetings than the Cook Islands parliament, and more uniform parades than the North Korean army.”
George said he supported Brent Fisher and Eric Short regarding the Warrant of Fitness “fiasco”.
“The police are too busy flouting their authority around and being photographed for the local news.
“Come you guys, let’s see some hard action for a change.”
The Cook Islands Police Service was given an opportunity to respond to George’s claims, but did not reply by the time CINews went to print.