Drug smuggling foiled
An Indian national was arrested by Customs and Excise officers at Ngurah Rai International Airport on Thursday for carrying 9.8 kilograms of ketamine in his luggage in the latest in a string of attempts by foreigners to smuggle drugs.
Mohammed Umar, 36, was arrested for smuggling the white crystal powder, usually used as an anesthetic, inside a water heater he brought from India.
His attempt was foiled by the customs officers when he underwent a luggage check after disembarking from a Thai Airways flight at 3 p.m. local time from New Delhi.
Customs service and monitoring head Bambang Wahyudi said Saturday that the suspect wrapped the drugs in plastic and hid it inside the water heater.
The water heater was packed in a large cardboard box that the suspect brought through a scanner.
“Why would he bring a used water heater to Bali? That’s what raised our officers’ suspicions. He also seemed very nervous,” Bambang said.
The suspect said the water heater was to be donated to an Islamic boarding school in Indonesia. He even showed officers an invoice for the water heater priced at 6,000 rupees. “The suspect was confused when officers asked him which school he wanted to donate to,” Bambang said.
As the officers examined the water heater using an ion scan and opened the machine, they found the drugs. The suspect admitted he was under orders by someone identified as Jakfar, who resided in India.
He said he was paid 5,000 rupees for transporting the drugs. He said Jakfar told him to find accomodation close to Ngurah Rai Airport while awaiting instructions.
“We tried since Thursday night to locate the recipients of the drug, but couldn’t find them. They may be aware of the arrest,” Bambang said.
Ketamine, which has similar effects to crystal methamphetamine, is usually sold for Rp 1.5 million per gram.
Bambang said that the suspect would be charged with violating the Health Law and could face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and fines of Rp 1 billion.
“We can’t charge the suspect with violating the Narcotics Law, because ketamine is not classified as a narcotic,” he said.
In several countries including Singapore, Hong Kong, India and Canada, ketamine is a class 1 narcotic, while in the US it is classified as a category 3 prescribed drug.
Bali is a magnet for foreign drug traffickers as the island has seen many cases of drug smuggling in the last couple of months.
Among the foreigners arrested in drugs cases were seven Iranians who attempted to smuggle 5 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine by swallowing the drugs.
Another Iranian, Shahbazi Saeid, was arrested for bringing in 200 grams of crystal methamphetamine in a similar way.
Also in December, 48-year-old Australian Robert Paul McJannett was detained for attempting to smuggle 2 grams of marijuana.
In January, the customs office arrested Malaysian woman Hoon Yue Chin for bringing in 0.62 grams of crystal meth. Several days later, French national Francois Virgile Arthur Sidoine was caught with 0.78 grams of heroine in his underwear. In the same month, two Malaysians, Chang Cheng Weng and Boo Guan Teik, were arrested for smuggling in 2 kilograms of crystal meth.
Ni Komang Erviani ,
The Jakarta Post ,
Mon, 02/15/2010 11:28 AM