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Drug Dealers Are Smuggling Meth Into Indonesia Through Informal Delivery Services

A woman who was paid to deliver goods from India to Indonesia said she unwittingly became a drug mule.

by Ikhwan Hastanto; translated by Jade Poa
23 August 2019, 6:02am

Photos via pixabay / CC license 2.0

This article originally appeared on VICE Indonesia.

As new tech trends come and go, so do the creative methods of drug smuggling. On Aug. 15, customs officers at Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport arrested a woman who runs a “jastip” business (an informal courier service many take on as a side job) for drug possession.

Jastip is a booming business in Indonesia. Customers can request items like clothing, shoes, and beauty products from abroad and have it delivered to them. Agents often hand-carry these items from the country of origin and collect a fee upon delivery in Indonesia.

The 22-year-old woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, said she unwittingly became a mule for an Indian drug dealer who hired her on Facebook. Airport security found out that she was in the possession of 1.7 kilograms of meth. “The perpetrator [the dealer] recruited the Indonesian courier through Facebook, then asked her to travel to India for a payment of Rp15 million (US$1,052),” Erwin Situmorang, Chief of Airport Customs, told local media.

Situmorang said the meth dealer who hired the woman used to live in Indonesia and is currently a wanted man for having dealt drugs in prison.

In their Facebook chat, the dealer asked the woman to travel to India to bring several packages back to Indonesia. Because she needed the money, the woman agreed to the suspicious transaction and didn’t even ask what the packages contained.

She flew to India, with all her expenses allegedly paid for by the dealer, and met someone who gave her items that appeared to be beauty and clothing products. When she returned to Jakarta, she was instructed to pass the packages on to another accomplice, only to be outed during the exit security scan.

Drug offences are not taken lightly in Indonesia. The woman will be charged under the country's narcotics law no. 35 of 2009, meaning she will face at best a 20-year prison sentence and a US$702,000 fine, and at worst the death penalty.

When they opened the woman’s luggage, police found the drugs hidden inside four boxes of Mont Blanc, Gucci, and Salvatore Ferragamo perfumes. A belt box was modified to conceal meth as well.

Police also arrested the two men the woman was supposed to give the packages to after they were found standing by the airport. They were later charged under Indonesian narcotics law and face a US$705,000 fine and possibly the death penalty.

The Jakarta Airport Customs Office has been bombarded by drug cartels in the past month. Between July and August of this year, they’ve stopped five cases of drug smuggling involving 16 drug mules. In total, police confiscated 5 kilograms of meth and 13,917 ecstasy pills.