Indonesia's prison drug rings out of control

In another blow to the already lax security at Cipinang Narcotics Penitentiary in East Jakarta, the Jakarta Police announced on Monday that they had found another international drug syndicate being controlled by two inmates inside the prison.

Jakarta Police deputy chief Brig. Gen. Sudjarno said the police had arrested seven members of the syndicate, one of which was a woman, in separate raids in the capital from July 16 to 22.

From the suspects, the police confiscated 10.57 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine and 500 ecstasy pills worth more than Rp 22 billion (S$2.71 million) on the street.

The suspects told the investigators they got the drugs from ES, an inmate in Cipinang drug prison.

"ES has been serving half of his sentence for distributing illegal drugs," Sudjarno said. "After follow-up investigations, we found that ES got the drugs from fellow inmate JW, who is a Malaysian."

JW was sentenced to death for the possession of 350 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine and had been serving one-and-a-half years in prison while awaiting execution.

"JW ordered illegal drugs from other Malaysian suspects, identified as AGU and AH, who are still at large," Sudjarno said. "We're now cooperating with the Malaysian Police to trace their whereabouts."

Sudjarno suggested the Attorney General's Office (AGO) accelerate JW's execution to prevent him from repeating his crimes.

He said the police had found five cell phones in JW's cell in the prison and that he had no idea why the prison guards had allowed that to happen.

"The police often visit the prison and the security system there is running well," he said. "Everyone entering the prison, even police officers, should be examined and they can't bring in cell phones."

He said the police did as best as they could to eradicate drug distribution controlled behind bars.

"However, the drug business behind bars always happens, even though we cooperate with prison guards to check the facility regularly," he said. "Maybe, we should seek the answer to this problem from the prison warden."

Deputy Law and Human Rights Minister Denny Indrayana replaced Thurman Hutapea as the prison's chief warden on July 25 following his ministry's investigation, which indicated the chief warden had given permission to adult magazine model Vanny Rosyanne to make a conjugal visit to drug-case inmate Freddy Budiman in the prison.

The ministry's internal affairs division had investigated the matter after Vanny disclosed to the public that she and Freddy had been granted a conjugal visit. Vanny also admitted that Freddy paid Rp 50 million a day to rent a special room.

Freddy was sentenced in 2011 to nine years' imprisonment for running a drug business with a police officer. However, being punished in prison did not stop him from repeating his criminal acts. In May 2012, he organized the smuggling of 1,412,475 ecstasy pills from China and 400,000 ecstasy pills from the Netherlands.

The West Jakarta District Court on July 15 sentenced Freddy to death for smuggling such a large number of drugs, which was also considered as Indonesia's biggest drug case in the last 10 years.

Prisons in the country are notorious for the lax supervision of their inmates, who are allowed the use of cell phones among other privileges.

There are currently 58 convicts on Indonesia's death row. Some have been incarcerated for more than a decade due to the prolonged appeals process.

According to the Law and Human Rights Ministry, 23 inmates facing the firing squad for narcotics offenses have petitioned President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono for clemency.

Presidential clemency is the final appeal for death row inmates.

The President has granted 19 of 126 clemency pleas received since he took office in 2004. Among those whose death sentences were commuted to life imprisonment by Yudhoyono is repeat narcotics offender Meirika "Ola" Franola. 

Business behind bars

January 2011: Surya Bahadur Tamang is busted for running a drug ring from his prison cell on Nusakambangan Island, Indonesia's Alcatraz, for over nine years. The Nepali citizen is sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment.

September 2012: Nigerian Adam Wilson, sentenced to death for heroin smuggling, is busted for running a crystal methamphetamine ring from prison on Nusakambangan Island. Police confiscate 8.7 kilograms of crystal meth worth a staggering Rp 17.4 billion. Only in March 2013, after 10 years in jail, was Wilson executed.

November 2012: Seven inmates - including five on death row - are busted in two cases in separate prisons on Nusakambangan Island. The inmates are linked to the arrest of a journalist in Jakarta carrying 2.6 kilograms of crystal meth and counterfeit money, and the confiscation of 2.4 kg of crystal meth in Jayapura, Papua.

November 2012: Meirika "Ola" Franola is accused of controlling a drug ring from Tangerang Penitentiary after a smuggler is arrested at the airport in Bandung, West Java. Ola's death sentence is commuted by the President on Sept. 26, 2011.

January 2013: Adam Wilson, Singaporean national Tan Swa Lin and Malaysian Lee Chee Hen are named as ringleaders by 16 drug couriers arrested in sting operations. The three are said to have taken orders from a kingpin in Malaysia. Tan is put on death row in Nusakambangan, while Lee is incarcerated at Cipinang drug penitentiary.

June 12, 2013: The police arrest a man and confiscate an ecstasy pill machine in Kalideres, West Jakarta. The man worked for Nico, 29, who had been sentenced to 17 years' in Cipinang drug prison and fined Rp 2 billion (S$256,247) in 2011 for shooting at a Transjakarta bus and possessing more than 11,000 ecstasy pills and methamphetamine at his house in North Jakarta.