Medan, N Sumatra (ANTARA) - Drug trafficking continues to be a major threat in North Sumatra with the number of drug users projected to reach 436,356, or 3.06 percent of the province’s total population, an official said.

The prediction has been made by the National Narcotics Agency (BNN), head of the North Sumatra National and Political Unity Office (Kesbangpol), Anthony Siahaan, told journalists in Medan, the provincial capital, on Wednesday.

The total population of the province currently stands at 14.26 million.

According to the BNN, North Sumatra is the third most vulnerable province in Indonesia when it comes to drug trafficking and related crimes. About 80 percent of illicit drugs reaching North Sumatra are smuggled by sea, Siahaan pointed out.

Therefore, the Indonesian Navy needs to increase its early detection capability to put an end to drug smuggling, Siahaan added.

The provincial government has been working closely with the Regional Leadership Communication Forum (Forkopimda) to deal with this challenging problem, he informed.

The Kesbangpol is collaborating with law enforcement agencies to raise awareness among local fishermen on the importance of combating drug trafficking, he said, adding that preventive measures against drug use also need to be included in district and city regulations.

Siahaan also highlighted the importance of strengthening partnerships between district and city governments and community organizations, universities, and community members to prevent drug abuse.

Given the reports of drug dealing reaching rural areas, the presence of BNN offices in all districts and cities of North Sumatra is essential, Siahaan averred.

"At present, only 15 of the 33 districts/cities in North Sumatra have BNN offices," he noted.

Indonesia remains under grave threat from drug dealers, with several members of its working-age population trapped in a vicious cycle of drug abuse.

According to a report from BNN, around 50 drug use-related deaths occur everyday in Indonesia. However, the deaths have failed to deter other drug users in the country.

Users of crystal methamphetamine, narcotics, marijuana, and other addictive drugs transcend communities and socio-economic and cultural backgrounds.

Indonesia is perceived by both domestic and transnational drug dealers as a potential market due to its huge population and millions of drug users. The drug trade in the country is estimated at nearly Rp66 trillion. (INE)
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Translator: Juraidi, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Suharto
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