The Indonesian Narcotics Police in Bali are being kept busier than they would like in recent weeks with a series of serious drug busts and a fugitive kingpin still at large. Although some recent arrests are being considered unlinked, there has been an increase in drug-related arrests in the past few weeks.
On Tuesday 28th June a Brazilian student, traveling to Bali from Kuala Lumpur, was arrested for being in possession of marijuana. Speaking at a press conference on Monday 3rd July, AKP Darmawan from the Narcotics Research Unit at I Gusti Ngurah Rai Airport in Denpasar, released details of the arrest. He said that the student is believed to have bought the drugs recently during in stay in Thailand, where marijuana has recently been made legal for recreational use.
The suspect, named as Alberto Sampaio Gressler, 25, was searched by customs officials upon his arrival. Officers found four plastic bags containing 2.8 grams of marijuana hidden in Gressler’s luggage, it is thought that officers were alerted to the suspicious packages as Gressler’s luggage went through the final X-Ray scanner at the airport customs check.
Upon questioning Gressler admitted to buying the marijuana and claims that he did not know that marijuana is a Class I drug in Indonesia. Gressler’s home nation of Brazil has recently began the process of decriminalising marijuana for personal use, although transporting, dealing, or growing the drug is still classed as illegal.
He is currently being held at the I Gusti Ngurah Rai Airport Police Station and has been charged with Article 113 and Article 111 of the Indonesian Law regarding narcotics possession and use. He now faces a minimum of 4-years in prison.
This news comes just days after the head of Indonesia’s National Narcotics Agency (BNN) made very clear statements regarding the country’s view on marijuana during the launch of the ‘Smash on Drugs’ campaign in Bali.
BNN General Petrus Reinhard Golose announced ‘We stated together from Bali that we have zero tolerance for narcotics. In Indonesia there is no discussion of legalizing marijuana, there may be countries that have legalized it but there are still many countries that do not legalize it…So I reiterate once again, that I remain consistent in not legalizing marijuana’.
He went on to assert that ‘I declare that Bali is not only the Island of Gods, and the Island of Tolerance, but we declare that Bali is the Island of Zero Tolerance of Drug Abuse…I warn drug dealers that there is zero tolerance for them if they wish to expand their business in Bali’. This zero-tolerance is being enforced without exception.
While teams within the BNN are focusing on targeting offenders in possession of small quantities of drugs, teams higher up in the agency are sharing updates about much larger drug-busting operations that involve cooperation with Interpol.
Bali Police and the BNN are working closely with Interpol to track down a drug kingpin known only as ‘A’, who is still on the run from authorities. According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian Federal Police are now joining the search operation.
Speaking to the newspaper the Head of Drug Investigations in Bali, Mohamad Khozin, told reporters that the AFP has offered cooperation and will inform authorities on the Bali side if A is tracked down in Australia.
The AFP was reported to have been asked for comment and released a statement to say that ‘The AFP does not comment on who may or may not be the subject of investigation”. Fugitive A is believed to be the mastermind behind millions of dollars worth of drugs being trafficked into and distributed throughout Bali.
During a raid on a drug house operated by A police found 35kg of crystal methamphetamine in addition to 2.6kg of marijuana, 32kg of cocaine, and nearly 800 ecstasy pills. They also arrested three Indonesian citizens who were helping run A’s operation on the island.
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