Bogor, W Java (ANTARA) - Indonesia has continued aggressive law enforcement efforts against drug offenders though it is yet to stamp out drug trafficking entirely.

Last year, the National Narcotics Agency (BNN) reported that it had mapped 92 drug syndicates that continue to pose a serious threat to the country. Of the total syndicates, 88 have been uncovered.

In a press statement published on its official website, the agency claimed that 14 of the 88 drug syndicates are transnational.

The agency said its success in uncovering the drug rings resulted in the arrests of 1,247 suspects in 2020 and the seizure of 1.12 tons of crystal methamphetamine, 2.36 tons of marijuana, and 340,357 ecstasy pills.

In addition to the arrests of 1,247 drug offenders in connection with 806 cases, the BNN also tracked assets worth Rp86,022,809,817, which it believes were gained through drug trafficking and money laundering.

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The BNN claims to have saved at least 1.7 million Indonesian citizens from drug addiction and related crimes as a result of its law enforcement efforts against drug offenders.

The BNN is not the only law enforcement agency that is aggressively fighting drug dealers, who still perceive Indonesia as the main market in Southeast Asia.

In September this year, BNN officers and their counterparts from the National Police and several government agencies conducted an integrated maritime interdiction operation.

During the operation, conducted in western and eastern Indonesia's territorial waters, they seized 122 kg of crystal methamphetamine from drug smugglers.

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The joint team of personnel also handled two violations of customs rules and two violations of maritime law, according to BNN eradication deputy head Arman Depari.

The 122 kg of crystal meth was seized from several suspects arrested in the waters off Sulawesi Island during the maritime interdiction operation, which started on September 14, 2021 and ended on September 25, he added.

Indonesia's large population and the size of its drug trade, which is estimated at nearly Rp66 trillion, is still continuing to be a draw for drug offenders, who mostly belong to domestic and transnational drug rings, the BNN said.

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The large amount of money generated from the drug trade and trafficking operations has been confirmed by the findings of the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (PPATK) on illicit financial flows (IFFs).

The finding on IFFs, resulting from drug trafficking, was disclosed by PPATK head Dian Ediana Rae on the PPATK's official YouTube channel on October 6, 2021.

According to Rae, the illicit financial flows, totaling Rp120 trillion, were suspected of having been generated through drug trafficking operations between 2016 and 2020.

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The PPATK recorded that 1,339 individuals and corporations were involved in the illicit financial flows, he added.

Former National Narcotics Agency (BNN) chief, Anang Iskandar, opined that the Rp120-trillion IFFs resulting from drug trafficking could potentially pose a serious threat to the government.

Hence, he urged the National Police and BNN to conduct a thorough investigation into PPATK's findings on the IFFs.

"It is important to follow up on PPATK's finding through a thorough probe to uncover the origins of the IFFs," Iskandar said in a statement that ANTARA received in Jakarta on Saturday.

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He contended that the total value of the IFFs exceeded that of the Jakarta administration's budget, so they could threaten the government if used for unlawful activities.

The turnover of illicit drug trades could be large and also exceed the amount of IFFs that the PPATK has reported, he noted, adding that the National Police must track money laundering crimes related to the IFFs.

"Thus, a thorough investigation is needed to uncover those benefiting from the money laundering crimes in connection with PPATK's finding through the reversal of the burden of proof mechanism in the courtroom," he noted.

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If the suspected perpetrators fail to convince, through the reversal of the burden of proof, that their assets are legal, they can then be seized as part of the state's law enforcement and drug prevention measures, he expounded.

Indonesia's National Police confirmed it is following up on PPATK's finding.

"We are following up on the finding. Let us wait for the outcomes of the police and PPATK's joint investigation," National Police spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Rusdi Hartono, said in a statement.

To this end, investigators from the National Police's Narcotics Division are coordinating with their counterparts from the PPATK, he remarked, adding that they have repeatedly worked closely to uncover several cases.

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Editor: Fardah Assegaf
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