"The total weight of the seized onion was approximately nine tons," Spokesman of the Riau Provincial Police Headquarters Senior Comissioner Sunarto said here on Wednesday.
The suspect was the skipper of the wooden boat that carried the onion. He was captured at the end of August after attempting to escape from the marine police`s patrol ship while sailing in the waters of Kuala Sungai Kembung of Bengkalis District`s coastal areas, he stated.
"The boat skipper is an Indonesian. He admitted that he had thrice transported the onion from Batu Pahat, Malaysia, to Bengkalis District, adding that around 1 thousand sacks of onion lacked valid documents from the Malaysian authorities.
Bengkalis District is geographically close to Singapore and Malaysia through the international sea-lane of the Malacca Straits. "We have been receiving many reports of onion smuggled into our country. Therefore, we intensified our patrols," Sunarto noted.
Besides Bengkalis, other parts of Riau Province that are also targeted by the trans-border smugglers are Dumai city and the districts of Indragiri Hilir, Meranti, and Rokan Hilir.
Early this week, Dumai police had also foiled an attempt to smuggle 150 sacks of onion. The police detained two suspects for further investigation.
Due to its close geographical proximity to Malaysia, Indonesia is also prone to other trans-border crimes, including drug trafficking.
Indonesia`s National Narcotics Agency (BNN) personnel had recently nabbed Syafwadi for his alleged role as a drug courier for drug dealer Ibrahim alias Hongkong, former legislator at Langkat District`s legislative body representing the National Democrat Party (Nasdem) faction.
According to Deputy of the BNN Drug Control Inspector General Arman Depari, Syafwadi was alleged to have worked for Ibrahim by delivering crystal methamphetamine that he smuggled from the Malaysian city of Penang to the middle of the sea along with another suspect named Daus.
The suspect confessed to the agency`s investigators that he had delivered packs of crystal meth four times as requested by Ibrahim. "For each delivery that Syafwadi made, he received Rp80 million (US$1=Rp14,642),"Depari stated, quoting the suspect`s confession.
Reporting by Anggi Romadhoni
Editing by Rahmad Nasution