JAKARTA • A convict in a maximum security Indonesian prison masterminded an operation to import 1.2 million Ecstasy tablets, which led to two arrests and the death of another suspect, the authorities said yesterday.
They told a press conference the arrested pair could face the death penalty if convicted of importing the drugs from the Netherlands.
The alleged mastermind - who is serving a 15-year sentence at the prison in Nusakambangan - would also be charged in the new case and could face the death penalty if convicted, said national police chief Tito Karnavian.
Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati warned that Indonesia has been targeted by major trafficking syndicates, which see it as a highly lucrative market.
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Police, national narcotics agency staff and Customs agents raided a warehouse in Banten province outside Jakarta on July 21 after investigating a syndicate for two months. Hundreds of thousands of Ecstasy tablets were seized and police arrested a 39-year-old man, who told them the drugs had been shipped from the Netherlands. The man said the smuggling was organised by the convict.
On July 24, police arrested another suspect in Tangerang, just outside Jakarta, with 56 bags of Ecstasy tablets, bringing the total number of tablets seized to more than 1.2 million. On July 27, a third man caught with 2kg of methamphetamine was shot dead when resisting arrest in West Jakarta, police said.
"For this case, the (two detainees) could face the death penalty," Mr Karnavian said, adding that the drugs had an estimated street value of more than US$45 million (S$61 million).
Last month, police shot dead a Taiwanese man caught with a tonne of crystal methamphetamine just outside Jakarta and arrested four other Taiwanese nationals.
Indonesia has some of the world's toughest anti-drug laws, including the capital punishment for traffickers. It has executed several foreign and Indonesian narcotics convicts by firing squad in the past few years.