Police are investigating a parcel containing illicit drugs delivered to a university campus in Rarotonga.
A package supposedly containing academic transcripts, text books and a graduation gown and head attire sent from New Zealand, was dropped off by a courier driver at the University of the South Pacific’s Cook Islands campus on Friday.
Problem is, there is no planned graduation there or at any other education institution in Rarotonga in the foreseeable future.
Instead when opened, the package allegedly contained class B drugs namely cannabis, and other illegal substances, which are yet to be confirmed via proper analysis.
Police spokesperson Trevor Pitt said they do not make comment on investigations allegedly involving drugs, as it can unfortunately be detrimental to their work.
However, Pitt confirmed that the matter concerning the package was referred to police on Friday.
“Police do appreciate all the help that can be provided to them to assist investigative efforts,” he said.
The drama unfolded on Friday afternoon after a courier driver dropped off a medium sized box to the front reception area, addressed to a name that was not familiar to staff or enrolled as a student.
Alarms started to sound when staff noticed the package was labelled to contain items relating to graduation.
Initial reports said that the parcel was mistakenly delivered to the campus, but USP Cook Islands campus director Dr Debi Futter-Puati confirmed it was clearly addressed to the recipient with USP used as the address of delivery.
“It just seemed dodgy. We don’t have graduation coming up and our students have access to garments and head attire here,” said Futter-Puati.
After receiving a phone call from a man claiming to be the cousin of the recipient, Cook Islands Police were alerted and they intercepted the package while the campus remained in lockdown.
Futter-Puati said she had spoken to other organisations as a warning and praised her staff for being alert and vigilant.
“I’m proud of my staff for being so diligent, they knew something was suspicious and acted on it,” she said.
Rod Henderson, a former Australian detective, believes it wasn’t the first time a package of this nature to have slipped through the gaps and it probably won’t be the last.
Screening processes need to be tightened both here and abroad if the Cook Islands are to be protected from the effects of illicit drugs, Henderson said.
“Steps need to be taken not only here in the Cook Islands but in the package’s country of origin to ensure these illegal substances aren’t getting to our shores,” he said.