Indonesian authorities on Wednesday, March 15, 2023, said they have arrested four foreigners including three Nigerians for allegedly trying to smuggle drugs into the country.
The Nigerian nationals were arrested separately between January and March at Soekarno-Hatta international airport in Jakarta and several apartments in the capital, police spokesperson Trunoyudo Wisnu Andika told a news conference in Jakarta.
One of the Nigerians arrested had allegedly swallowed dozens of capsules filled with more than a kilogram (2.2 pounds) of methamphetamine.
Indonesia is a major hub for drug trafficking in Southeast Asia and has strict drug laws, with convicted smugglers sometimes executed by firing squad.
Gatot Sugeng Wibowo, chief of customs at Soekarno-Hatta, said officers arrested Malachi Onyekachukwu Umanu, a Nigerian who arrived at the airport from Ethiopia on March 5 with no suitcase or bag.
His suspicious behavior prompted officers to check his body, and an X-ray turned up some 64 capsules inside his stomach. Authorities managed to force all the capsules, which were filled with a total of 1.07 kilograms (2.3 pounds) of crystal methamphetamine, out of his stomach within three days, Wibowo said.
Customs officers at the airport also arrested a Brazilian man, Gustavo Pinto da Silveira, shortly after he arrived from Rio de Janeiro in early January, carrying a backpack, suitcase and surfboard. He initially refused to let officers test the contents of liquids in his luggage.
His resistance led officers to further investigate the substance, which was stored in six toiletry bottles and had a strong odor. Lab tests confirmed the fluid was 2 liters (67.6 ounces) of liquid cocaine. Police said it was worth 20 billion rupiah ($1.3 million).
Police also arrested two other Nigerian nationals along with an Indonesian man and woman who tried to smuggle 1.04 kilograms (2.2 pounds) of crystal meth from India wrapped in lace fabric through a post office in Jakarta.
Mukti Juharsa, the police director of drug investigations in the capital, believes the recent arrests are all linked to an international syndicate that sought to distribute the drugs in Jakarta.
“Foreigners shouldn’t try to bring drugs to Indonesia. They won’t escape being arrested, as customs at all international airports in Indonesia have been improved,” Juharsa said.
“He said the suspects would be punished according to Indonesia’s strict narcotics law, with a minimum of five years’ imprisonment and a potential death sentence, as both dealers and distributors of various types of drugs.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime says Indonesia is a major smuggling hub in part because international drug syndicates target its young population. There are 5.6 million drug users in the country of 270 million people, Indonesia’s National Narcotics Agency estimates.