Bali Airport authorities have arrested a 19-year-old woman found in possession of 3.6kg of cocaine in her luggage. The teenager, known by her initials MF, arrived at Bali Airport at around 3 am on 1st January 2023 on a Qatar Airways flight. Officials in Bali believe that a drug trafficking syndicate had tricked the teenager. She told officials during questioning that she came to Bali to have surfing lessons.
MF claims not to know how the drugs came to be in her bags. Indonesia has some of the strictest drug laws in the world; if found guilty of drug trafficking, MF may face up to 20 years in prison. The death penalty is reserved for the most serious drug offenses in Indonesia and remains a possibility.
The case was confirmed to reporters by Bali Police Chief Insp. Gen Putu Jayan Danu Putra, in Denpasar on Friday 27th January. Putra explained, “The drug smuggling attempt was thwarted by the Bali airport customs. We really appreciate what customs have done”. MF arrived in Bali with two suitcases. In one piece of her luggage, customs officers found two packaged parcels of cocaine and three bags of cocaine.
The parcels contained 990g and 637g, respectively; police confirmed the bags contained 891g, 711g, and 379g. Altogether, the total amount of Class A drugs in the attempted smuggling was 3.608kg. Putra also confirmed that they also found 1.63g of Clonazepam, a type of benzodiazepine, in MF’s luggage.
Speaking separately, the Unit Chief of the Bali Police Drug Enforcement Office, Iwan Eka Putra, confirmed the belief that MF has been compromised by a drug smuggling syndicate. He said, “She is indeed used as part of the Brazilian network, promised that if you want to go surfing school in Bali, you can [do] it. [This was] promised by a friend near her house, so she brought the item. She didn’t know the item was in the suitcase because she had brought a suitcase from the network”.
According to Bali Police, the intended recipient of the packages still needs to be identified. MF has told police that she goes not know where the parcels were set to be delivered or collected from her possession. Speaking to the press in light of MF’s arrest, the Head of the Bali-Nusa Tenggara Customs and Excise Office, Susila Brata, told reporters that “Our officers are trying our best to thoroughly check all passengers arriving in Bali to anticipate drug smuggling attempts.” He noted that there is a constant dialogue between customs officials and the BNN, the National Narcotics Agency.
Back at the press conference, Chief Inspector Putra concluded his statements by saying, “As tourism starts to revive and many foreigners come, we should strengthen our cooperation in preventing drug smuggling.”
In December 2022, Bali Police and the National Narcotics Agency intercepted a drug shipment that was set for distribution across the island ahead of the New Year celebrations. The package is believed to have been sent from the UK and contained a little over 200g of cocaine.
Announcing the successful drug bust, the Head of the BNN Narcotics Eradication Unit, Putu Agus Arjaya, told reporters that the cocaine was shipped to Indonesia from the UK. They believe that the real masterminds are operating a drug syndicate from outside of Bali, using local people as runners in return for large amounts of cash. He noted that the 200g of cocaine had an estimated street value of IDR 1 billion (USD 62,000).
Indonesia has one of the most uncompromising stances on drugs anywhere in the world. Despite some countries looking to legalize or decriminalize substances like marijuana, officials in Indonesia have been clear that they will continue to promote a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to drugs.
In June 2022, the Head of the BNN, General Petrus Reinhard Golose, said “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”.
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