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Indonesian sailors seize USD82M of cocaine

JAKARTA, INDONESIA (AP) – Sailors deployed to secure travel during the Aidilfitri holiday made Indonesia’s biggest cocaine seizure after finding plastic packages of the drugs floating at sea, the navy said.

Indonesia is a major hub for drug trafficking in Southeast Asia and has strict drug laws, with convicted smugglers sometimes executed by firing squad.

The four black packages containing 179 kilogrammes of cocaine worth IDR1.2 trillion (USD82.6 million) were found floating near Merak port on Java island on Sunday, the navy’s deputy chief of staff said at a news conference on Monday.

Smuggling drugs by throwing packages and a buoy into the sea is a common tactic, Vice Admiral Ahmadi Heri Purwono said.

Smugglers likely put the drugs in the water near a port for them to be moved by a speedboat and were monitoring the packages when they were seized by the navy, he said.

Navy personnel display packages containing 179 kilogrammes of cocaine worth USD82.6 million during a media conference in Jakarta. PHOTO: AP

“This is a spectacular seizure of cocaine, considering its huge value and the impact on the people as a result of the illicit drugs,” Purwono said. No one has been arrested, and authorities are still investigating, he said.

The officers who spotted the package were among 5,000 navy personnel deployed to secure Aidilfitri homecomings. Millions of Indonesians celebrate the holiday at the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadhan by travelling to see their families across the vast archipelago.

The United Nations (UN) drug office said Indonesia is a major smuggling hub in part because international drug syndicates target its young population. Indonesia’s National Narcotics Agency estimates there are 5.6 million drug users in the country of 270 million people.

Most of the more than 150 people on Indonesia’s death row were convicted of drug crimes. About one-third of them are foreigners.