Indonesian police report uncovering major Southeast Asia drug ring

Arie Firdaus
Indonesian police report uncovering major Southeast Asia drug ring Officers at the police’s regional headquarters in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, guard suspected drug traffickers during a news conference following a methamphetamine seizure from a network operating between Thailand and Malaysia, July 12, 2023.
Chaideer Mahyuddin/AFP

In coordination with Thai and Malaysian authorities, Indonesian police have uncovered a major syndicate trafficking crystal meth across Southeast Asia, a senior official in Jakarta said Wednesday. 

Between 2020 and 2023 police confiscated drugs and laundered assets valued at U.S. $683 million (10.4 trillion rupiah) from operations against the syndicate, which is led by Indonesian fugitive Fredy Pratama. Wahyu Widada, chief of the Indonesian national police’s criminal investigation agency, said investigators believe that Fredy was last seen in Thailand. 

“This is an organized and structured organization. Fredy has arranged who does what … there are operational, financial, document-making, money-carrying sections and so on,” Wahyu said.

Investigators discovered the ring’s operation after analyzing 408 drug cases from 2020 to 2023 that involved 10.2 tons of methamphetamine linked to Fredy’s group, according to Wahyu, who said drugs were distributed in Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia.

More than 800 people in Indonesia had been arrested in 408 drug cases linked to Fredy’s ring since 2020, including 39 since May, he said. The total value of drugs and assets seized in Indonesia and Thailand, including cash, buildings and land is estimated at $683 million, he said.

Indonesia has some of the world’s harshest anti-narcotics laws, with courts often imposing the death penalty for drug trafficking. The last time the government carried out executions was in July 2016, when four men convicted of drug offenses were put to death by firing squad.

Methamphetamine, a powerful stimulant that affects the central nervous system, is the most prevalent and problematic synthetic drug in East and Southeast Asia, according to a 2022 report by the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Record amounts of methamphetamine continued to be seized in Southeast Asia, especially in the Lower Mekong subregion, where organized crime groups have diversified their manufacturing locations and methods, the report said.

Methamphetamine use has increased in the region over the past decade and has been identified as the primary drug of concern in all reporting countries in the region, according to UNODC. 

fredy screenshot.png
Screenshot of the Interpol Red Notice for Indonesian fugitive Fredy Pratama. []

On Wednesday, Indonesian police said they were working with their counterparts in Thailand to locate Fredy.

Mukti Juharsa, the director of narcotics crime at the Indonesian police’s criminal investigation agency, said while Fredy was known to have run the network from Thailand, recent reports had him leaving that country.

“We checked the travel data because there is a possibility that he used a fake identity or changed his face,” Mukti said, adding that Fredy has been on Interpol’s wanted list since.

“We continue to cooperate with the police and immigration of Thailand because he has already issued a red notice.”

In Thailand, police Lt. Gen. Sarayuth Wanapokai, commander of the narcotics suppression bureau, said he did not have knowledge about the report from Indonesia. Malaysian police did not immediately respond to BenarNews requests for comment.

In January, Thai police announced they had seized 1.1 metric tons of methamphetamine from northern, central and southern Thailand in less than a week. Authorities said a tip about the drug activities had led to the arrests of 10 people.


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