Thursday, July 29, 2021 - 18:27.  Updated on Thursday, July 29, 2021 - 19:21.

Cocaine packages with a street value of around $2.3 million pa’anga have washed up on beaches at Höleva and Ha‘alaufuli in Vava’u, Photo: Tonga Police. 29 July 2021.

Cocaine packages with a street value of around $2.3 million pa’anga have washed up on beaches at Höleva and Ha’alaufuli in Vava’u, triggering a major search for further drugs by Tonga Police and HMAF navy today.

Matangi Tonga Online understands that the first packages found by locals were handed over to police last weekend

Vava'uans are being urged to hand over to police any further packages that may wash up in the northern island group of Tonga.

Acting Deputy Commissioner Halatoa Taufa, National Crime and Investigations, Tonga Police, said today that samples had tested positive for cocaine, using tests by law enforcement in Nuku'alofa.

He said that Police, who were still investigating exactly when the first packages were found, were working closely with the Tongan navy, utilising the patrol boat VOEA Ngahau Koula to scour areas of interest in the Vava‘u waters.

“There is possibility that more packages may turn up on the beach and we ask any members of the public to immediately contact Police if they found or knew anyone to have found further drugs,” said A/D Commissioner Taufa.

Tonga Police photos show at least five bricks of cocaine, with another black rubber bag containing a quantity of white powder wrapped in plastic. Taufa said that the weight of the haul was still being measured by police. As to the size of the packages, “The packages look similar to those that were found in Vava'u previously,” he said, referring to the wreck of the drugs yacht JeReVe in 2012.

Cocaine package washed up in Vava'u. Photo: Tonga Police
Taufa strongly reminded that “anyone who has in their possession any of the washed-up drugs and failing to hand over to Police is a serious offence. Contact Police on phone 740-1660 or 922 and share any information you may have on this matter or any drug related offence,” he said.


This is not the first time that major shipments of illicit drugs have been found in Tongan waters.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) report on Transnational Organised Crimes in the Pacific in September 2016 noted that Tonga, like all Pacific Island countries is geographically disadvantaged by being positioned in between known major manufacturers and markets for the illicit drugs trade. This makes Tonga vulnerable to trafficking of illicit drugs. … p-in-Vavau