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Accused Hong Kong Drug Lord Forced to Burn $140M of Meth In Indonesia

The enormous bust highlights China's growing role as the principal producer of Methamphetamine in Asia, as Indonesia continues a hardline drug crackdown.
Photo by Tatan Syuflana/AP

Indonesia's National Narcotics Agency (BNN) forced an alleged drug kingpin and his cohorts to help destroy 1,900 pounds of methamphetamine — potentially worth approximately $140 million — after a massive raid on Tuesday, which was reported to be South East Asia's biggest ever haul of the drug.

Armed police paraded the nine men accused of drug smuggling in front of reporters at an incineration plant at Jakarta's Soekarno Hatta airport. A video shows the men, handcuffed and wearing balaclavas, marched by armed police before being taken into the incinerator room, where they were made to help throw bags of the drugs into the fire.


The international syndicate is believed to have been led by Hong Kong drug lord Wong Chi-ping, who along with the eight others — three more Hong Kong-based Chinese nationals, four Indonesians, and a Malaysian — could face the death penalty, according to a press release from BNN.

"We have very strict regulation, we have very strong punishment for everyone who tries to supply or smuggle drugs in Indonesia," BNN Deputy Chief Deddy Fauzi Elhakim told local reporters.

Unlike some other governments, which have made pleas for clemency when their nationals have been caught trafficking drugs in Indonesia, Chinese authorities have given their approval to the Indonesian legal process.

"The Chinese authority supports any penalty, any verdict given by the Indonesian government," Li Bo, of China's Narcotic Control Commission, told reporters at a press conference in Jakarta.

The bust took place on Monday January 5 following a three-year investigation, and was a cooperative operation between BNN, China National Narcotics Control Commission, and the Hong Kong police.

Wong had sent a fishing boat from a port in west Jakarta on the previous Friday to collect the drugs from another ship that had come from the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou. The boat returned on Monday morning with the drugs packed into coffee sachets that were concealed in 42 white rice sacks, according to BNN.

"The drugs were brought illegally into the port, transferred onto a vehicle, and then driven to the car park of a shopping mall in Jakarta. Three buyers who were Hong Kong nationals were waiting in another car," BNN spokesmen Sumirat Dwiyanto reportedly said.


Asia is now the world's largest market for amphetamine-type stimulants, and methamphetamine seizures have tripled in the last five years, according to The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime's (UNODC).

UNODC's latest figures show that China, where Wong's shipment is thought to have originated, has seen a particularly rapid rise in methamphetamine seizures. With a total of 16 metric tons apprehended in the country of the past 5 years, China accounted for 45 percent of seizures across Asia.

Wong moved to Indonesia when he was 27, where he set up a fishing business and married an Indonesian woman. In court, the Chinese national admitted to using Indonesian maritime maps when he was planning the smuggling operation.

"W.C.P is a drug dealer who has been living in Indonesia for more than 15 years," said Dwiyanto. "He is part of an international syndicate, heading operations in Indonesia."

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