Drugs in New Caledonia? Try cocaine in the mail …
Most people I know, when they Google New Caledonia, decide within seconds that it is a tropical paradise. They are not wrong. Most, also, are, or become, insanely jealous when they learn that I live on this tiny island and work for Paris. It is 6 degrees below freezing (Celsius) in Paris at the moment, while we are island hopping on the weekends. I understand their jealousy. I do.
But as I’ve said several times before already, all is not paradise in New Caledonia. Our cost of living is on average 34% higher than in Europe (and food is 65% higher); our chances of dying in a car accident are four times higher here than in France (more on this in a future post); racial tension is bubbling as we crawl towards an independence vote; and we are living in a time warp.
On top of that, we have record marital and family violence (remind me to tell you the story about the man who chopped off his wife’s arm with a saber a few weeks ago), alcohol problems in the young (in particular, but not limited to), a dose of homophobia equal to what the States knew in the 1980s, and rising numbers of robberies and rape (also more on this in a future post).
But among my friends here, we relativize things. They all say, “Everywhere has its problems. New Caledonia is no different. Well. At least we don’t have drugs here.”
Turns out, a 30-something has been receiving, using and selling coke (13 grams of it, delivered to his home in a windowed envelope – direct from France) in Nouméa since November. And the funny thing is, if it weren’t for the agents at a tollbooth (a tollbooth, people, not the post office), this enterprising young man would still be at it. Why not? If you can’t get it on the island, why not order it on line (or by email)? Goodness knows, it’s probably cheaper.
I love that he received the cocaine in envelopes, addressed to a fake name (but at the correct address). I love that he sold the coke to some of his friends (a university professor, a fireman, others, upstanding citizens all) at CFP 25,000 (€210) per gram – who he asked to pay him by check (let’s not make this super easy to trace – checks still come with names and addresses on them, I’m afraid).
But how was he found? Passing through a tollbooth with some dried grass and a plastic bag of powder visible in his car. Perhaps the invisibility cloak slipped?
Breaking news tonight is about our local SWAT team (watch the short video to see how SWAT-like they are) intervening to secure an area for local pot growers who had been displaced by fires that are raging in our southern parts … The question is will the marijuana be seized and the growers fined, will the fires be put out, and will we tomorrow, resume our life in paradise?