Indonesian police foil sale of drugs through Instagram

Indonesian narcotics police display seized ecstasy pills during a press conference in Jakarta on August 1, 2017.
Indonesian narcotics police display seized ecstasy pills during a press conference in Jakarta on August 1, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA • As law enforcers turn up the heat on drug traffickers, the latter are getting more creative in selling their products.

Avoiding risky face-to-face transactions, some drug dealers use social media to promote their products to customers, and deliver the orders by ojek (motorcycle taxi) services to cover their tracks.

This modus operandi was discovered in March, when police arrested two men in Cakung, East Jakarta, for allegedly selling a synthetic cannabinoid-type of drug called gorilla tobacco through photo-sharing platform Instagram. The two men reportedly sent the drugs to their customers by using an app-based ojek delivery service.

The same scheme was discovered recently as Jakarta police investigators arrested three people who allegedly sold marijuana liquid for vaping, through Instagram. Police arrested Martino Saputra, Gantis Watimuri and Kurniawan Hidayat for allegedly selling liquid containing 5-Fluoro ADB, a new type of drug derived from marijuana.

The drug was stronger than marijuana, and excessive use could cause nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath and even death, said Adjunct Senior Commissioner Dony Alexander, who heads a unit at the Jakarta police's narcotics division.

Using an account under the name "Mamen Liq", the suspects followed Instagram accounts of consumers of vaporiser substances.

"The suspects sent private chat messages to the consumers and offered them the liquid, called 'Liquid High'," the officer said recently.

The suspects allegedly sold the liquid in 60ml bottles for three million rupiah (S$306) or 5ml bottles for 300,000 rupiah.

After posing as buyers, investigators arrested the suspects and seized 210ml of the illegal liquid.

Police said they also found 50 million rupiah in Kurniawan's bank account, money allegedly earned from selling the drug.

Police claimed the suspects had made more than 400 million rupiah since they started their operations.

National Narcotics Agency (BNN) spokesman, Senior Commissioner Sulistiyandriatmoko, said the trend of using social media platforms to sell drugs and then deliver them via app-based ojek services had begun in January this year.

The BNN would strengthen its coordination with the Communications and Information Ministry to conduct cyber patrols on accounts allegedly used for trading drugs.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 08, 2017, with the headline 'Indonesian police foil sale of drugs through Instagram'. Print Edition | Subscribe