Bali Police have arrested an American school teacher at I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport. The 37-year-old, with initials JJB, was arrested for carrying marijuana vape e-liquid into Indonesia hidden in his camera case.
During a press conference the Airport Police Chief AKBP Ida Ayu Wikarniti accompanied by the Head of Customs at Ngurah Rai, Mira Puspita Dewi, explained the arrest. They shared that he has been arrested on Tuesday 7th August after arriving on Batik Air OD 177 from Kuala Lumpur.
Dewi told the press that ‘As per procedure, Customs and Excise officers check passenger’s luggage’. The X-Ray of his luggage flagged suspicious bottles in his camera bag. During the search of his bags, officers found e-liquid cartridges containing marijuana. The liquid was sent off for tests and it was confirmed that the e-liquid did contain narcotic substances and was not simply a flavored vape liquid.
During his interrogation, the accused claimed to be traveling alone to Indonesia and that he did not know that marijuana was illegal in all forms in Indonesia. He was paraded at the press conference wearing a bright orange prisoner’s overall branded with the number 62.
He also wore a brown balaclava to cover his face. Dewi also confirmed that authorities do not believe that the accused had any intent to supply. Wikarniti told the press ‘Based on the suspect’s statement that the narcotic evidence is his and is to be used during his stay or vacation in Bali’.
The suspect has been charged with Law of the Republic of Indonesia Number 35 of 2009 concerning Narcotics, namely Article 113 Paragraph 1 with the threat of imprisonment for a minimum of five years, a maximum of 15 years, and a minimum fine of Rp. 1 billion, a maximum of Rp. 10 billion (USD 67,000 – 680,000).
There were no comments shared by any legal representation for the American during the press conference. Neither Dewi nor Wikarniti alluded to any involvement from the American Consulate in legal proceedings.
The suspect is the second American citizen to be arrested for possessing marijuana vape e-liquid in August. A Californian named in the press only by his initials JPC was arrested at his home in Kuta after a suspicious parcel was sent to him from Thailand.
A parcel was flagged by customs officials in Bali after the package had an address but no named receiver. Customs alerted the Denpasar Police to the matter who tracked the parcel to the address.
During a search of the property, police found seven bottles of the ‘suspected marijuana-containing liquids’ which were tested and confirmed to contain illegal substances. Bali, and Indonesia more broadly, have exceptionally tough laws on drugs.
Despite many countries around the world moving to legalize, or at least decriminalize marijuana use for recreational purposes, Indonesia has confirmed that it will retain its zero-tolerance approach to marijuana and any other narcotic substances.
Travelers are reminded that border officials in Indonesia are now actively looking at vape liquids along with their usual checks for drugs and other illegal substances. Any cannabis-related product is considered illegal in Indonesia. In the past travelers have been bought in for questioning and even arrested for possessing hemp massage oil and clothing with a marijuana leaf on it. CBD, even for therapeutic or medicinal purposes, is strictly forbidden.
A Brazilian student who was traveling to Bali from Kuala Lumpur, after a trip to Thailand, was recently arrested for carrying marijuana into Indonesia. Much like the accused, 25-year-old, Alberto Sampaio Gressler claimed that he was unaware that marijuana was illegal in Indonesia. He has also been arrested and charged with drug-related offenses and faces a minimum of 4-years in prison.
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