20 November 2012

Timor-Leste becoming transit zone for international drug smuggling

Suspected drug smugglers in East Timor
ETLJB 20 November 2012 Tempo Semanal reported yesterday (19/11/2012) that yet another Indonesian citizen has been arrested in Timor-Leste on suspicion of being part of an international drug smuggling network.

According to Tempo Semanal, since mid-August 2012, dozens of foreigners, including Indonesians as well as citizens of African and European countries have been arrested in connection with narcotics smuggling in East Timor. The total value of the drugs that have been seized is estimated to be between US$10 - $15million.

The Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao acknowledged yesterday that East Timor is being used as a transit zone for criminals attempting to traffic drugs into Indonesia and possibly Australia as well.
According to data which Tempo Semanal has acquired, a suspect with the initials EP is a Indonesian of Javanese descent who has been living in Bali for a long time who came to East Timor on 31/10/2012. He stayed only one day in Dili and then flew on to Colombia via Singapore.

He then returned to Dili on 13/11/2012 from Colombia with more then five kilogram of cocaine. He has been held by the authorities since then  and yesterday an Indonesian woman whose name initials are HH arrived from Bali to collect the narcotics and take them to Indonesia.

HH was captured in the same hotel used by EP in Dili by the authorities and was presented to PM Xanana in Dili airport before being taken to police custody yesterday.

As Tempo Semanal notes, as the Indonesian middle class expands so its desire for drugs also grows as in other wealthy countries. Lesser developed countries with weak institutions often end up becoming transit routes for drug smugglers as in the case of Guinea Bissau which has become hijacked by drug barons and is now known as a narco-state experiencing chronic instability.

Timorese authorities are working hard to ensure this does not happen in East Timor. However questions remain as to why drug smugglers have chosen Dili as a transit route. It suggests they some officials may be on the drug rings' payroll so that they look the other way when the drugs come into the country. This seems to have come to an end. But the authorities must remain vigilant to ensure that this does not become a chronic problem.

Related stories
Drug traffickers handed over to Indonesia
Plenty of drugs in Timor-Leste, SPI helpless to stop it
Prostitution and Drugs in Timor-Leste blamed on foreigners
Police will not tolerate people who smuggle drugs into the country
Indonesians and Mozambiquans arrested on suspicion of importing 8 kgs of methamphetamine to Timor-Leste
Murders, Drugs, Assaults, Embezzlement, Corruption & Land Disputes: Summary of Cases Heard by the Dili District Court in May 2011

Source: Tempo Semanal. Edited by Warren L. Wright BA LLB

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