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Indonesian Narcotics Agency Stresses Need To Seize Drug Assets


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Jakarta. The National Narcotics Agency has vowed to enhance its efforts on a recently launched initiative that involves seizing drug convicts' assets to prevent them from running drug operations from behind bars.


Comr. Gen. Gorries Mere, who heads the agency known as the BNN, pointed out on Monday that the seizure of assets belonging to convicted drug traffickers and dealers was regulated by the 2009 Anti-Narcotics Law.


"We have started this program just this year, with one or two cases at first.


By seizing all of their assets, we will at least minimize their chances of going back to [the narcotics] business.


As long as they are in control of their assets, even if they end up in jail, they can run their business from behind bars," Gorries told lawmakers during Monday's hearing with the House of Representatives' Commission III, which oversees legal affairs.


Gorries's statement comes a month after Jakarta Police Chief Insp. Gen. Sutarman said that jails nationwide were heaving from the growing population of drug users, couriers and traffickers.


Going as far as saying that users should be fined rather than jailed and "drug traffickers should be put to death," Sutarman had said Indonesia continued to pay a very high price as wardens and police fail to stop convicts from managing drug businesses in jail via cellphones.


Gorries cited the example of drug convict Kadir Santoso, who controlled the distribution of drugs from Nusakambangan Penitentiary, a maximum security prison in Central Java.


He said the facility had actually installed technology to jam phone signals, which was why Kadir had been kept there -- to prevent him from communicating with outsiders.


"But then we learned that he had in his possession a small decoder, which he had installed somewhere on the ceiling of his prison cell. He could still communicate through a satellite phone. We should have seized all his assets from the start."


When asked where the seized assets would go, Gorries said that they would be utilized for the rehabilitation of drug victims, to support operations against dealers or handed to citizens as a reward for providing information about drug dealers, couriers and traffickers to police.


BNN official Tommy Sagiman told lawmakers separately that this year alone the agency had frozen 80 bank accounts, containing billions of rupiah, belonging to drug traffickers and dealers.


In the future, Tommy added, BNN planned to also seize cars and houses, as well as other forms of both movable and immovable assets.


The BNN had said in November that the only way the death penalty for drug crimes in Indonesia could have a deterrent effect was if executions were carried out in a speedy manner.


BNN spokesman Sumirat Dwiyanto said just five drug dealers had been executed in 2008, of the 72 sentenced to death.


The last time the Attorney General's Office ordered executions to be carried out was in 2008, when 10 inmates were put in front of a firing squad, including three militants convicted for the 2002 bombings in Bali.


He added that a court handing down the death penalty was one matter, but seeing to its actual execution was quite another.


Former acting Attorney General Darmono had said in November that only one of 101 inmates on death row had now exhausted all available legal avenues.


Lawmakers on Monday urged the BNN to collaborate with the Customs and Immigration offices, to strengthen monitoring at airports and seaports.


"Our airports and seaports must really be strengthened," Commission deputy chairman Azis Syamsuddin said.


Tommy added that one problem that was becoming a major concern was the growing trend of Indonesian migrant workers in Hong Kong, Macau and Malaysia being used by international drug syndicates as couriers.


He pointed out that a majority of them were workers who had developed serious problems with their former employers.


"They are fired by their employers. They have no job. So they are recruited by these drug syndicates. They are paid about US$2,500 for each kilogram of drugs they bring in a trip," Tommy said.


"To date, more than 350 [indonesian] migrant workers have been arrested by foreign authorities for such crimes.


"Our migrant workers are easily persuaded by such small sums of money even though the risk is severe.


"On the other hand, our authorities at airports are easily cheated as well."


But Manpower Minister Muhaimin Iskandar said on Monday that he had yet to receive a single complaint over migrant workers being used as couriers by drug syndicates.


"As far as I know, we have more than 300 workers in Malaysian jails waiting for trial. But they are actually not workers, but Acehnese residents of that country," Muhaimin said.


Gorries said Indonesia remained an extremely lucrative market for massive international drug syndicates.


"Our warnings to foreign governments, whose citizens bring drugs to Indonesia, like Iran and Malaysia, are more than enough. We have issued warnings about the high punishments for drug dealers, but it still hasn't brought trafficking to a halt.


This is because of the money. In Iran, Rp 50 million will get you a kilo of crystal methamphetamine. Here the same kilo is worth as much as Rp 2 billion," Gorries said.


In a related development, Jakarta Narcotics Police on Monday announced the arrests of two Malaysian nationals believed to be couriers of crystal meth at two separate hotels in Jakarta.


Police seized a total of five kilograms of the drug from both men.


The drugs were smuggled into the country in plastic pipes that were installed in suitcases, officers said.





Obviously these Narcotics Agents just need more money , personal, and all will be well on the front lines until everyone is either in jail or a Agent . We can only hope .

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