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Jakarta Post

COVID-19: National Police name 33 suspects for allegedly stockpiling masks, hand sanitizers

  • Galih Gumelar

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, April 3, 2020   /   06:12 pm
COVID-19: National Police name 33 suspects for allegedly stockpiling masks, hand sanitizers A sign informing buyers that masks are sold out is seen at a health equipment store at Pramuka Market in Central Jakarta on March 4. (JP/Dhoni Setiawan)

The National Police have named 33 people suspects for allegedly stockpiling masks and hand sanitizers and selling them at higher prices amid increasing demand for the commodities as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The suspects were named in 18 separate cases, as reported by regional police forces across the archipelago, National Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Asep Adi Saputra said. Jakarta reported the most cases with six followed by the East Java Police with four cases and the West Java Police with three.

“We have named 33 suspects who are deliberately hoarding masks and hand sanitizers. However, we didn’t place all suspects in custody, as we have only detained two of them,” Asep said in a press conference on Thursday.

Read also: Staple foods safe, but masks, sanitizer gone from markets as consumer behavior shifts

He said the police would charge the suspects under Article 107 of the 2014 Trade Law, which stipulates that producers or traders who stockpile goods, contribute to market scarcity and artificially increase prices face a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to Rp 50 billion (US$3.57 million).

The suspects, he said, could also be charged under Article 197 of the 2009 Health Law, which states that any person who distributes unauthorized health equipment could be sent to 15 years’ imprisonment and be fined up to Rp 1.5 million. However, this charge would only apply to the suspects if they also distributed unlicensed products.

“We will take stern action against those who have stockpiled or hoarded masks and hand sanitizers as both goods are needed by the public in times of pandemic such as now,” Asep said.