Wednesday, March 26, 2014


    Jakarta, March 26, 2014 (Antara) - Just for a mere Rp3 million (less than US$300), 29-year-old Siti Kamidah, an Indonesian migrant worker, was willing to be a drug courier.
         She just arrived in Jakarta from Hong Kong on February 20, and proceeded to a cargo warehouse at Soekarno-Hatta international airport to collect illicit drugs hidden in two electronic massage devices. However, she was later arrested by officers of the National Anti-Narcotic Agency (BNN), according to
         Siti Kamidah is just one of many Indonesian migrant workers who have been recruited as drug couriers by overseas syndicates.

         "There are still several Indonesian migrant workers (TKI) who have been used as drug couriers to help smuggle illicit drugs into this country," Senior Commissioner Sumirat Dwiyanto, a BNN spokesman, clarified in Jakarta recently.
         The migrant workers were given money for carrying illicit drugs to Indonesia.
         "Migrant workers who desperately need money to reach home in Indonesia are usually the easy targets to illegally carry or collect the drug packages," he explained.
         The Soekarno-Hatta customs and excise officials recently detained 24 people for trying to smuggle in illicit drugs worth Rp6.9 billion.
         They comprised 12 Indonesians and 12 foreigners, Okto Irianto, the head of the Soekarno-Hatta customs and excise office, declared recently.
         The arrests were made during a special operation carried out from February 25 to March 17. Some 4,182 grams of crystal methamphetamine and 20 "happy five" pills were seized during the operation.
         Most of the nabbed Indonesians were migrant workers, he pointed out. The drugs were usually hidden in their luggage, under their clothes or inside their shoes. Some packages were sent ahead by the syndicates, recruited migrant workers were told to collect them upon their arrival in Jakarta
    The anti-narcotic agency has been conducting public awareness campaign about the tactics used by drug syndicates to recruit migrant workers as couriers, to Indonesian migrant workers overseas.
         "We have been carrying out anti-drug campaigns in several countries such as Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore. And even now, it is still our program," Sumirat explained.
         The South China Morning Post recently reported that Hong Kong's triads were targeting Indonesian migrant workers to smuggle drugs into the Southeast Asian nation.
         Organized crime gangs from Hong Kong and southern China have long been key players in Indonesia's illicit drugs market, but recent cases indicate they are diversifying tactics - and according to domestic helper rights groups - maids can be an easy prey for drug rings looking for couriers, the media wrote.   
    The new smuggling tactic involving migrant workers posed serious challenges in the fight against drugs in Indonesia.
         "We received a report on April 5, saying that a migrant worker from NTB was arrested in Riau Islands during an attempt to smuggle drugs. It's a new tactic. The migrant worker had swallowed capsules filled with drugs," The head of West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) Narcotics Agency (BNP NTB), Sr. Comr. Mufti Djufnir, was quoted as saying by the Jakarta Post in April 2013.
         Similar cases also occurred in East Java's Surabaya and Yogyakarta last year in which migrant workers arriving from Malaysia were arrested with drugs. East Java sends the highest number of migrant workers abroad, followed by NTB.
         "There are efforts by drug syndicates to use migrant workers to smuggle drugs into our country, and this has to be resolved," observed
         BNN recently solved a number of drug trafficking cases originating in Hong Kong, including one involving an Indonesian domestic helper.
         According to Sumirat Dwiyanto, a Hong Kong criminal syndicate used the worker, who had overstayed her visa, to courier a package of methamphetamine, also known as Ice, back to Indonesia, the South China Morning Post wrote in its new article on March 16.
         The drugs were shipped ahead but the woman was arrested by police when she attempted to collect the parcel at the airport cargo service, Sumirat explained.
         "The [Indonesian] consulate is very much aware that international drug traffickers consider Indonesia a market for drugs. For this purpose, the trafficker has a pattern to recruit foreign nationals as couriers, including Indonesian citizens in Hong Kong," explained Sam Aryadi, vice-consul for public affairs at Indonesia's consulate.
         The South China Morning Post also quoted Indonesian Migrant Workers Union chairperson Sringatin as saying that she was aware of the involvement of migrant workers in the drugs trade and was working to educate the union's members about the consequences.
         "Some gangs take advantage of the conditions faced by migrant workers. Sometimes they trick migrant workers who overstay their visas [into the drugs trade]," pointed out Sringatin.
         Besides that, economic considerations resulting from high employment agency fees and the need to support their families drive the workers to participate, she elaborated.
         Apart from Hong Kong, drugs also came from Malaysia by using Indonesian workers as couriers. Last year, the Indonesian authorities arrested MS, an Indonesian migrant worker from Bawean, East Java, who had worked in Malaysia for a long time. 
    MS' network had smuggled 4.45 kilograms of heroin and 1.66 kilograms of methamphetamine to Indonesia through Batam from the sea.
    That network also involved a Nigerian citizen staying in Malaysia.
         The Indonesian foreign ministry last year informed that hundreds of Indonesians faced the death penalty abroad, with 80 percent of them related to drug charges and the rest connected to torture, murder and robbery.
         "Currently there are 236 Indonesians who are facing the death sentences and 188 of them are related to drug abuse and trafficking," the Foreign Ministry's director for legal aid and protection of
Indonesian nationals overseas, Tatang Budie Utama Razak, pointed out.
         There were 120 drug-related cases involving Indonesians in Malaysia while all the cases in China and Iran were drug-related.
         He explained that most of the Indonesians on death row had been used by international drug syndicates. They had been arrested at airports or other entry points carrying drugs for syndicates in bags, luggage or inside their bodies. ***1***

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