The Bali Police and customs office is on higher alert, as they are expecting an influx of drug trafficking onto the resort island ahead of the upcoming holidays. Ngurah Rai International Airport Customs Office chief Budi Harjanto said his side had intensified screening of all international passengers arriving at the airport, citing a rise in drug trafficking cases on the island prior to year-end festivities.
"We've stepped up security ahead of the New Year. We suspect that international drug rings are still targeting Bali and want to reap more profits from New Year celebrations," Budi said.
In the first half of December alone, the customs office thwarted two drug smuggling attempts.
On Dec. 1, customs officers arrested New Zealand citizen Anthony Glen de Malmanche, 52, for allegedly attempting to smuggle 1.7 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine into Bali. He was arrested upon arrival at Ngurah Rai from Hong Kong on Hong Kong Airlines flight HX 709.
A week later, customs officers arrested a Russian woman named Magnaeva Aleksandra, 26, for allegedly attempting to smuggle 2.1 kg of crystal methamphetamine. She was arrested at Ngurah Rai as she arrived on Hong Kong Airlines flight HX 707.
"They could be from the same international drug ring, as they share a similar modus. Both were bringing the drugs from China," he said.
Customs officers are also tightly monitoring mail services, as drug smuggling has also been attempted via mail.
Ngurah Rai customs officers have foiled 21 drug smuggling attempts so far this year compared with 17 cases last year. The customs office has seized a total of 18.7 kg of crystal methamphetamine, 245 grams of cocaine, 115g of hashish and 194g of marijuana.
Foreign suspects arrested in the cases were citizens of France, Lithuania, South Africa and Germany.
"Drug-ring organizers likely recruited mules of various different nationalities to fool customs officers, thinking that we only screen passengers from certain countries, such as African or Asian countries," Budi said.
The Denpasar Police also arrested 19 drug dealers in Denpasar and Kuta between Nov. 25 and Dec. 2, seizing a total of 11kg of marijuana, 303g of methamphetamine and 9 ecstasy pills.
Denpasar Police drug section head Comr. I Gede Ganefo said two suspects were found with 10.1 kg of marijuana during an arrest made in Denpasar.
"They claimed that the marijuana was smuggled from Java and was to be sold to New Year revelers," Ganefo said.