East Kalimantan drug smuggling arrests highlight porous state of borders
“Go around Sebatik Island, which is divided between two countries [Malaysia and Indonesia] over a 50-kilometer stretch, and you’ll see dozens of small ports that can be used to smuggle methamphetamine,” Ilham Zain, a spokesman for the Nunukan district administration in North Kalimantan, told the Jakarta Globe on Monday.
He said officials had moved to improve security measures within the area but even with the support of the Malaysian authorities, smugglers were still able to find a way through the porous border.
On Friday, a Malaysian and two Indonesians were arrested by the East Kalimantan office of the National Narcotics Agency (BNN) in Samarinda with 624 grams of meth with an estimated street value of Rp 1 billion ($89,000). One of their accomplices managed to escape carrying a further 300 grams of meth, officials said.
In a press conference on Sunday, an official from the local BNN office said the Malaysian suspect and his wife had left the Sabah state capital of Kota Kinabalu on March 10 with a kilogram of meth. Neither were carrying passports but managed to get past a checkpoint at the border crossing of Tawau.
From Tawau, the two reportedly entered Nunukan, where the man met with the two Indonesians. The three subsequently took a speedboat to Bulungan and then continued their journey to Samarinda by car.
Upon reaching Samarinda they stayed in different hotels until they met another suspect before contacting a buyer who agreed to meet with them at the Mahakam River on Friday noon, where they were arrested by BNN officials.
“We have nabbed the Malaysian man, one of the people they met in Nunukan and the man they met in Samarinda, but the other suspect from Nunukan managed to escape with 300 grams of methamphetamine,” said East Kalimantan BNN chief of investigations M. Daud.
Officials also said they discovered the Malaysian’s wife on the island of Tarakan.
“She did not accompany him to Samarinda and we are still investigating whether or not she was involved in her husband’s operations,” Daud said. “Our focus at the moment is to apprehend the suspect from Nunukan who got away while we monitor the Malaysian’s wife.”
Officials suspect the Malaysian suspect may have entered the country illegally on a number of occasions.
Earlier on Feb. 18, East Kalimantan BNN officials arrested four people trying to smuggle four kilograms of drugs from Tawau to Samarinda.
In a report by Republika.co.id last month, Nunukan Police Chief Sr. Comr. Robert Silindur Pangaribuan called on residents in the area to cooperate with officials in fighting drug trafficking in the area.
“I’m sure local residents know about the drug trafficking activities in Nunukan, which are supplied from Malaysia,” he said on Feb. 25, adding that perpetrators who were arrested were often found mingling with local residents.
“Not everyone knows about drug smuggling in Nunukan, but I’m sure some of them are aware of the perpetrators or the location of the contraband and the process of smuggling them from Malaysia.”
Robert also said he was not sure whether any law enforcement officials had been involved in allowing drug smugglers to conduct their activities in the area.
“But if the involvement of officials can be proved in this drug smuggling case, then we will take firm action on this,” he said. “Without public participation in monitoring and eliminating drug trafficking from Malaysia… it will be difficult for officials.”
source: The Jakarta Globe
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