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'This is a crisis, it's make or break now' - 1 NEWS to look at how Tonga is battling meth trade


There have been big changes in Tonga's meth trade as police crack down on big players.

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TVNZ’s Pacific correspondent spoke to Breakfast ahead of her exclusive investigation this evening on 1 NEWS at 6. Source: Breakfast

In December, Pacific correspondent Barbara Dreaver revealed the "ravaging" drug trade in Tonga. "This is a crisis, it's make or break now," she said this morning on TVNZ1's Breakfast, ahead of her full exclusive story on 1 NEWS this evening.

She said a drug problem like the current one could destroy a small nation like Tonga.

However, since 1 NEWS' investigation last year, the police have been coming down hard on the issue - making large scale arrests, Dreaver said.

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A critical lack of addiction treatment resources is causing problems in the kingdom, Barbara Dreaver discovers. Source: 1 NEWS

She revealed that in the past year police have made 263 arrests - a big number for a country of only about 110,000 residents.

Some of the arrests made were "big players", including a very senior customs officer, Dreaver said.

"There are people involved at the very highest levels, in every area, " she said. "And that's the issue that the Tongan government and the police within their own ranks are facing."

For more on this story, watch 1 NEWS at 6pm. Source: 1 NEWS

The police have a special drugs task force and had been working hard, but Dreaver said their is still a lot more work to be done.

"Even within the police, within government, there are people related to those people who are involved. They know who's involved - it's a small country - but proving it is another thing."

Tonight she will take a hard look at what’s being done, talking to dealers and also victims who have been impacted by the trade. The series will continue tomorrow with stories of "strong Tongans trying to make a difference".

The stories will air on 1 NEWS at 6, on TVNZ1.