Pekanbaru, Riau (ANTARA) - Riau police apprehended 13 suspected drug traffickers and seized 19 kg of methamphetamine, 21,161 ecstasy pills, and 30 nimetazepam pills, better known as "Happy Five" from them, a police officer stated.

The suspects, believed to belong to a Malaysian-Indonesian drug ring, were arrested from several places in Riau during raids conducted by local cops from February 12 to February 29, Sen. Coms. Manang Soebeti remarked.

Soebeti, who heads the Riau Police's Narcotics Directorate, revealed that the suspects' drug trafficking operation was controlled by an inmate sentenced in the Langkat Penitentiary, North Sumatra.

"This is an international drug syndicate, as the drug package was supplied from Malaysia and smuggled into Indonesia through Riau Province's Dumai waters," he told journalists in Pekanbaru City on Monday.

The drug package was picked up by five of the 13 suspects from a vessel docking at the Dumai Port to be then transported to Sibolga in North Sumatra.

From Sibolga, the drugs would be traded in Medan City and delivered to the penitentiary, he stated, adding that the suspects' drug trafficking operation was ordered by the inmate, identified as N.

The suspects confessed to police investigators that they had, on five occasions, delivered the drug packages from Riau to the penitentiary. Each of them was paid between Rp6-10 million for the delivery, he stated.

"The suspects had been involved in the drug trafficking operations since November 2023 and might have delivered 60 kg of methamphetamine," he remarked.

The 13 suspects have been charged with violation of Articles 112, 114, and 132 (1) of Indonesia's Drug Law Number 35 of 2009 that may lead to punishments ranging from death penalty and life imprisonment to between six and 20 years in prison, he added.

ANTARA reported earlier that drug trafficking still poses threats to Riau and North Sumatra as well as several other provinces in Sumatra Island, as domestic and transnational drug dealers consider Indonesia to be a potential market due to its vast population and millions of drug users.

The value of drug trade in the country is estimated to have reached nearly Rp66 trillion, with the number of drug trafficking cases continuing to surge.

A joint survey conducted by the National Narcotics Agency (BNN) and the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) in 2019 pegged the number of drug users in Indonesia at over 3.4 million.

The survey conducted in 34 provinces indicated that about 180 out of every 10 thousand Indonesians in the age group of 15 to 64 years were addicted to drugs.

The users of crystal methamphetamine, narcotics, marijuana, and other types of addictive drugs can belong to any community and socioeconomic and cultural background.

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Translator: Bayu AA, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Aditya Eko Sigit Wicaksono
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