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Philippines arrests Australian linked to drug trafficking

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — One of Indonesia’s most-wanted drug suspects has been arrested in the Philippines after an international manhunt and efforts were underway to have the suspect extradited to Jakarta to face charges, Indonesian and Philippine officials said Friday.

Philippine Immigration Commissioner Norman Tansingco said Gregor Johann Haas, 46, was detained in Bogo city in the central province of Cebu after the Interpol issued a red notice, an international alert for a wanted person, stemming from a criminal complaint filed against him by Indonesian authorities.

Tansingco described Haas as “a high-profile fugitive for being an alleged member of the Sinaloa cartel, a large international organised crime syndicate based in Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico that specialises in drug trafficking and money laundering activities.”

Media reports say Haas is the father of popular Australian rugby league player Payne Haas.

Indonesian authorities have implicated Haas in an attempt to smuggle into Indonesia in December a shipment of floor ceramics filled with more than five kilogrammes of methamphetamine, a highly addictive stimulant which is prohibited in Indonesia and the Philippines, the Bureau of Immigration in Manila said in a statement.

“The drugs were seized by Indonesian authorities who later discovered via testimonies elicited from arrested drug couriers that the packages were sent by Haas from Guadalajara, Mexico,” it said.

In Jakarta, Indonesia, Krishma Murti, the head of the National Police’s International Relation Division, told The Associated Press that Indonesian authorities wanted Haas to be flown to Indonesia immediately and face an investigation.

“We suspect he has networks all over Asia and in Australia,” Murti said.

There were no immediate comments from the arrested suspect and Payne Haas.

Under Indonesia’s strict drug law, Gregor Johann Haas could face the death penalty by firing squad.

Haas was flown from Cebu province to an immigration detention center in Metropolitan Manila while deportation proceedings were underway, the Philippine immigration bureau said without elaborating.

In this handout photo provided by the Philippine Bureau of Immigration, Australian national Gregor Johann Haas poses for a mugshot following his arrest in Cebu province, Central Philippines on May 15. PHOTO: AP