Russian woman arrested in Bali for trying to smuggle drugs, may face death penalty

Aleksandra Magnaeva (in orange) of Russia is presented to the media by customs officials for a press conference at the customs office in Denpasar on Indonesia's resort island of Bali on Dec 11, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Aleksandra Magnaeva (in orange) of Russia is presented to the media by customs officials for a press conference at the customs office in Denpasar on Indonesia's resort island of Bali on Dec 11, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

DENPASAR, Indonesia (AFP) - A young Russian woman may face the death penalty for allegedly attempting to smuggle crystal methamphetamine into the resort island of Bali, an Indonesian customs official said on Thursday.

Aleksandra Magnaeva, 26, was detained on Sunday after arriving in Bali on a flight from Hong Kong with 2.1kg of the drug stashed in her two bags. "The maximum penalty is death," said Mr Budi Harjanto, the Bali airport customs chief. He did not give an estimated street value for the drugs.

Magnaeva said during questioning that her boyfriend, with whom she had been living in China, had told her to pass the drugs on to someone on Bali, the official said. The Russian said she had brought the drugs via land from mainland China to Hong Kong, and that it was her first time smuggling drugs into Bali, Mr Harjanto said.

However she told officials that she had trafficked drugs throughout Asia, including to Thailand, numerous times, he added.

Customs officials detected similarities in her case and that of a New Zealand man caught attempting to smuggle crystal methamphetamine into Bali last week, but said authorities were yet to conclude whether the two were linked.

Indonesia enforces some of the stiffest penalties for drug trafficking in the world, including life imprisonment and death.

Foreigners are frequently arrested for attempting to smuggle narcotics into hard-partying Bali, and some have been handed the death sentence.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo said this week that there will be no pardons for drug traffickers on death row, dashing hopes he might take a softer stance on capital punishment.