Indonesia's 'Largest Ever' Crystal Meth Seizure Suggests Country May Be Heaven for Traffickers i

Police officers check out bags containing crystal meth near Anyer Beach in Serang, Banten, on Thursday (13/07). (Antara Photo/Asep Fathulrahman)

By : Bayu Marhaenjati & Aichi Halik | on 10:22 AM July 15, 2017
Category : News, Crime

Serang, Banten/Jakarta. Two months of careful detective work by Jakarta and Depok police officers ended up in the seizure on Thursday (13/07) of one ton of crystal methamphetamine, locally known as "sabu," worth Rp 1.5 trillion — around $112 million — smuggled from China, reportedly the "largest ever" seizure of the popular street drug in Indonesia.

The police said in a press statement later in the day this was the largest ever seizure of crystal meth in terms of volume in the country's history. The drug was meant to be distributed in the Greater Jakarta area.

"Millions of lives have been saved by the seizure of these drugs from China," Jakarta Police Chief M. Iriawan told reporters.

The police shot dead Taiwanese Lin Ming Hui, one of four suspected drug traffickers the police targeted during their raid, because he had tried to escape.

Two other suspects were captured by the police, but one managed to flee.

The police found one thousand kilograms of crystal meth packed neatly in 51 boxes in the empty Mandalika Hotel near Anyer Beach in Serang, a popular beach resort west of Jakarta, early on Thursday.

Iriawan said the police are interrogating the hotel owner to see if he has any connection with the suspected drug ring.

A policeman stands guard in front of the empty Mandalika Hotel in Serang, Banten, after what the police claim to be the 'largest ever' crystal meth seizure inside the hotel. (Antara Photo/Asep Fathulrahman) A policeman stands guard in front of the empty Mandalika Hotel in Serang, Banten, after what the police claim to be the 'largest ever' crystal meth seizure inside the hotel. (Antara Photo/Asep Fathulrahman)

Heaven for Traffickers?

Indonesia is known to have one of the toughest anti-narcotics laws in the world, that includes death penalty for traffickers. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo declared Indonesia was in the middle of a "narcotics emergency" and a "war on drugs" in early 2015.

A total of 18 people convicted in drug-related cases have been executed under Jokowi's administration, despite international protest. They met their death by firing squad in Indonesia's infamous prison island Nusakambangan, including Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, Dutch citizen Ang Kim Soei, Brazilian Marco Archer Cardoso Mareira and Indonesian Andriani, aka Melisa Aprilia.

However, the executions apparently have not deterred traffickers from operating in Indonesia.

National Anti-Narcotics Agency (BBN) Chief Comr. Gen. Budi Waseso said during an International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking ceremony at Taman Mini Indonesia Indah in East Jakarta on Thursday that the agency has identified around 72 "active" international drug rings in the country.

"We are concerned because there are also so many drug users," Budi said.

BNN claims around 50 Indonesians die every day from drug abuse, and that around seven million Indonesians are believed to have used illicit drugs.

Budi said many drug rings are controlled from inside Indonesia's jails by convicted traffickers.

According to him, BNN recently also received a tip-off from its counterpart in Thailand that authorities there have seized a container containing crystal meth headed to Indonesia.

The BNN chief said traffickers may be diverting their operations to Indonesia after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte began his own much-criticized deadly war on drugs, which includes a shoot-on-sight order for drug dealers. "Many drug traffickers changed course to Indonesia as a consequence," he said.

The "largest ever" seizure of crystal meth is a victory of sort for Indonesia's law enforcers, but Budi said he believes the amount of drugs being smuggled into the country that escaped police's attention is even larger.

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