Thu, 02 Oct 2003

More than 10 kgs of cocaine found at airport

Multa Fidrus, The Jakarta Post, Tangerang

Customs and excise officers discovered 10.6 kilograms of cocaine hidden in an unclaimed suitcase left since Monday at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, but have yet to trace the perpetrators.

"The cocaine was found in one of two bags left without name tags. The two bags were sent through Singapore Airlines SQ164 from Singapore on Monday," Jusuf Indarto, head of customs and excise at the airport, told a media conference on Wednesday.

Jusuf said that the unclaimed luggage should have been returned to Singapore but since there was no name and address on the bags they were kept for further investigation.

Suspicious officers later opened the two suitcases, and found 11 packages containing white powder in one of the bags.

A narcotest confirmed that the white powder was cocaine. Weighing 10.6 kilograms in total it is worth Rp 19 billion (US$2.24 million).

Jusuf said that the case was now in the hands of the National Police detectives who are still tracing the sender and the receiver of the unclaimed luggage.

Earlier in the day, one of the passengers of the flight, a resident of Pejaten, Pasar Minggu, South Jakarta, reported to a missing suitcase to the lost and found counter at the airport.

The airport's customs and excise officers, policemen and staff of delivery service company PT Jaya Angkasa Semesta went to the passenger's residence in Pejaten with the two unclaimed bags, but the person claimed the other bag.

Since June, the airport's customs and excise officers have confiscated various kinds of drugs smuggled through the airport that ended up at the lost and found counter.

The officers destroyed the drugs on Wednesday, including 3,541 ecstasy pills, 300 tranquilizer pills and 2.5 kilograms of marijuana.

District courts across the country, particularly in Tangerang, have been handing down harsh sentences against drug traffickers. Dozens of convicts, most of whom are foreigners, are on death row for drug dealing and smuggling.

Articles 81 and 82 of Law No. 22/1997 on narcotics carry a maximum punishment of death and a Rp 1 billion fine.

However, the tough sentences seem not to be effective as a deterrent to drug smugglers.

In August, some 13.7 kilograms of cocaine was found hidden in the frame of a hang glider belonging to Brazilian Marco Archer Cardoso Moreira. He fled the customs area at the Soekarno-Hatta airport leaving his belongings behind. Moreira, who is believed to be a courier of an international drug syndicate was arrested in Banyuaji, Sumbawa island, West Nusa Tenggara, after 16 days on the run.