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Crystal meth labs thrive
in RI

The menus of many nightclubs in North Jakarta include not only food and drink — but also drugs such as crystal methamphetamine, ecstasy and cocaine.

According to one regular patron of the city’s demimonde, customers in private karaoke rooms can even order drugs from the wait staff.

“The waitresses will prepare everything, including the bong,” he said.

While President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and the police have made eradicating drugs a priority, crystal meth is easily found throughout Jakarta.

Amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) such as crystal meth have been the drug of choice throughout Southeast Asia since the 1990s, displacing plant-based drugs such as heroin, opium and cannabis and posing a growing threat to security and public health.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released its 2011 regional report here on Tuesday, saying that criminals throughout the nation could reap huge profits making ATS using a variety of easily obtained materials.

The report said that the transnational organized criminal groups from Africa and the Middle East have expanded their operations in Indonesia in recent years, establishing a legion of drug factories.

“Indonesia has developed significant problems with ATS manufacturing and use, with crystal methamphetamine now the primary drug of use. International drug trafficking organizations continue to smuggle ATS and other illicit drugs to Indonesia,” the UNODC said in its report.

Gary Lewis, the regional representative of the UNODC Regional Center for East Asia and the Pacific, said that increasing crystal meth use was of great concern in Indonesia.

“On the basis of the trends we see, we are worried of the possibility of greater risk of amphetamine and crystal methamphetamine [abuse]in Indonesia. Things that affect the drug market include the extent of population, number of youths in the population — and those trends erupt and develop very quickly,” Lewis said.

Lewis said that Indonesia evolved from a drug transit hub to a manufacturer as crystal meth labs were small operations that required easily obtained raw material.

The UNODC also said that African syndicates were involved in trafficking crystal meth, ecstasy and heroin into Indonesia and used Cambodia as a financial center and a springboard for distributing drugs to Indonesia.

Local demand for crystal meth remains high despite the seizure of 442 amphetamine type stimulant factories in East and Southeast Asia.

Benny Mamoto, director of narcotics at the National Narcotics Agency, said that crystal meth had become a major concern given that local demand and supply had both been surging.

“Another reason is that the price of crystal methamphetamine is relatively cheaper than heroin and cocaine. However, a study showed that there is a correlation between crystal methamphetamine use and a high risk of HIV/AIDS,” Benny said.

Gories Mere, the head of the National Narcotics Agency, said that the agency worked on law enforcement, prevention and rehabilitation programs.

Criminologist Adrianus Meliala said that the agency needed to cooperate with the Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM), the Health Ministry and the Trade Ministry to control the amount of crystal meth in Indonesia.

“There has never been a clear report on the amounts of substances entering Indonesia, how much of the substances are being used and what we do with the remaining substances. We should have such report to avoid the misuse of drugs,” he said.

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