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Hong Kong customs detains Lithuanian for smuggling crystal meth

VICTORIA: A Lithuanian citizen has been arrested by The Medan Customs and Excise Office attempting to smuggle a total of 3.29 kilograms of Crustal Methamphetamine from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to North Sumatra.

The customs office said the Lithuanian, identified as Verikas Mindaugas, was apprehended as he disembarked from a plane at the Kualanamu International Airport in Deli Serdang regency, North Sumatra,

Office head Siswo Suharto said Mindaugas was detained after the drugs were found in his backpack upon his arrival. The drugs were hidden inside four handbags and the lining of his backpack and were detected by the customs’ X-ray machine.

“After examining the bag, officers found crystal fragments believed to be crystal meth, which the suspect hid inside four handbags and his luggage lining. As much as 449 grams were found inside a silver handbag, 406 g inside a red handbag, 415 g inside a brown handbag and 2,020 g inside the blue backpack,” Siswo told the media at his office on Monday.

He added that based on a lab analysis, the crystal fragments carried by the suspect were positively tested as Class 1 methamphetamine, locally known as shabu-shabu.

The customs office has recorded a decrease in drug smuggling cases into North Sumatra this year, compared to last year.

“Last year, we foiled 22 drug-trafficking attempts from overseas. This year the number of cases dropped to 12 as of Dec. 14,” Siswo said.

Medan Customs and Excise Office Investigation and Enforcement Section head Ahmad Fatoni said nearly 90 percent of drugs smuggled into the province originated from Malaysia, while the remaining 10 percent came from European countries.

Ahmad added that so far most of the traffickers hailed from Asian countries, but there was a rising trend of them coming from Europe. He said suspect Mindaugas was the first Lithuanian to be caught trafficking crystal meth into North Sumatra.

“Generally, most of the drug traffickers we caught were from Asian countries, such as Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam, but now there is a rising number coming from European countries. This is a new phenomenon that we are still investigating,” said Fatoni.

North Sumatra Police Narcotics Directorate sub-directorate Chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Suhadi said police were still building the case against Mindaugas. Suhadi said police had determined that the drugs the suspect allegedly brought to Indonesia had originally been smuggled from Nigeria to Hong Kong and then to Malaysia.

“We are still investigating who would later have dealt with the crystal meth in North Sumatra. We are building the case further,” said Suhadi, adding police have taken over the case from the customs office.

He said police were cooperating with the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to find out with which drug syndicate Mindaugas might have been involved.

“We have coordinated with the DEA. We want to know whether Mindaugas is part of an international drug syndicate included in their list,” said Suhadi.

Crystal meth smugglers had also been busted at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta and the Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali.

Last month, a Russian woman was arrested by Ngurah Rai Airport customs officials for allegedly smuggling 2.1 kg of crystal meth on a flight from Hong Kong.

A total of 21 smuggling attempts by foreign nationals have been reported in Kualanamu, Soekarno-Hatta, Ngurah Rai, Juanda Airport in East Java and Husein Sastranegara in West Java.

Twenty-four suspects have been arrested in the cases; 11 of them were women. Among the suspects recorded were citizens of Cambodia, China, France, Germany, Kenya, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Russia, Sweden and Thailand.

From the arrests, customs officers confiscated a total of more than 36 kg of crystal meth, 7 kg of ketamine and 239 g of cocaine.