Indonesia police seize 1.6 tonnes of crystal meth in second major bust this month

JAKARTA (REUTERS) - Indonesia seized a record 1.6 tonnes of crystal methamphetamine from a ship off the northern island of Batam on Tuesday (Feb 20), a narcotics official said, the second major drug bust this month.

President Joko Widodo’s government has cracked down on trafficking in an effort to contain soaring consumption of crystal meth and other narcotics. 

Indonesia has among the world’s strictest anti-narcotics laws and drug trafficking is punishable by death.

“It’s an estimated 1.6 tonnes and yes, this is a record seizure for us,” said Sulistiandriatmoko, adding that details of its origin and destination were still under investigation.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimates that Southeast Asia’s trade in methamphetamines and heroin was worth US$31 billion (S$40 billion) in 2013.

Earlier this month, Indonesian authorities confiscated just over 1 tonne of crystal meth, known locally as ‘shabu-shabu’, also in Batam, a small industrial hub a short ferry ride from Singapore.

Budi Waseso, head of the anti-narcotics agency, said authorities had acted on a tip from Chinese and Thai authorities and that the shipment had come from Myanmar in a vessel disguised as a fishing boat.

“It had been to Australia...and in and out of Indonesian waters several times. This means this ship had repeatedly entered Indonesia carrying large quantities of narcotics,” Waseso said.

Myanmar is part of the so-called Golden Triangle where it meets Thailand and Laos and where drug production and trafficking is booming.