Indonesia says convict organised major drug trafficking ring

Jakarta (AFP) - A convict in a maximum-security Indonesian prison masterminded an operation to import 1.2 million ecstasy tablets which led to two arrests and the death of another suspect, authorities said Tuesday.

They told a press conference the arrested pair could face the death penalty if convicted of importing the drugs from the Netherlands.

The alleged mastermind -- currently serving a 15-year sentence in the maximum security prison at Nusakambangan -- would also be charged in the new case and could face death if convicted, said national police chief Tito Karnavian.

Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati warned that Indonesia has been targeted by major trafficking syndicates who see it as a highly lucrative market.

Police, national narcotics agency staff and customs raided a warehouse in Banten province outside Jakarta on July 21 after investigating a syndicate for two months.

Hundreds of thousands of ecstasy tablets were seized and police arrested a 39-year-old man who told them the drugs had been shipped from the Netherlands.

The 39-year-old said the smuggling was organised by the drugs convict.

On July 24 police arrested another suspect in Tangerang just outside Jakarta with 56 bags of ecstasy tablets on him, bringing the total seized to more than 1.2 million.

On July 27 a third man caught with two kilogrammes (4.4 pounds) of methamphetamine was shot dead for resisting arrest in West Jakarta, police said.

"For this case, then (two detainees) could face the death penalty," Karnavian said, adding the drugs had an estimated street value of more than $45 million.

Last month police shot dead a Taiwanese man caught with a tonne of crystal methamphetamine just outside Jakarta and arrested four other Taiwanese.

Indonesia has some of the world's toughest anti-drugs laws, including capital punishment for traffickers.

It has executed several foreign and Indonesian narcotics convicts by firing squad in the past few years.

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