JAKARTA - Indonesian authorities said Wednesday a major Hong Kong drug lord had been arrested and more than 860 kilograms (1,900 pounds) of crystal methamphetamine seized, following a three-year investigation into a global syndicate.
Three other Hong Kong residents, as well as a Malaysian and four Indonesians, were also detained in the "massive" bust on Monday, and all could face the death penalty, National Narcotics Agency spokesman Sumirat Dwiyanto told AFP.
He said Indonesian authorities had been monitoring the head of the ring, a Hong Kong man only identified by his initials of W.C.P., since 2012 after intelligence officers learnt he was part of a major global drug ring.
"W.C.P is a drug dealer who has been living in Indonesia for more than 15 years. He is part of an international syndicate, heading operations in Indonesia," Dwiyanto said.
A statement from the agency said seven countries had been following the syndicate.
Dwiyanto said W.C.P had sent a fishing boat to sea from a port in west Jakarta last Friday to collect nearly 863 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine from a ship that had departed from the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou.
The boat returned on Monday morning with the drugs, which had been packed into one-kilogram coffee sachets and concealed in 42 white rice sacks, he said.
"The drugs were brought illegally into the port, transferred onto a vehicle and then driven to the car park of a shopping mall in Jakarta. Three buyers who were Hong Kong nationals were waiting in another car," he said.
A Malaysian accomplice acted as a lookout.
"We are questioning them now before naming them suspects. But all nine could be charged with drug smuggling, which carries the death penalty," he added.
Dwiyanto declined to give an estimate for the street value of the drugs, but said it was a "massive" haul and the biggest for the agency.
Crystal methamphetamine, commonly known as "ice", is a highly addictive drug. Trafficking narcotics carries the death penalty in Indonesia.