Emerging trends and concerns

  • Record amounts of crystalline methamphetamine were seized in Indonesia in 2015. The low prices of relatively higher purity products, compared to previous years, point to an increased availability of crystalline methamphetamine market in the country.
  • The trafficking of crystalline methamphetamine into Indonesia by transnational organized criminal groups, particularly by sea, is on the increase. The large coastal line, due to the number of islands which constitute the country, makes this a worrying development.
  • The clandestine manufacture of crystalline methamphetamine continues to occur in Indonesia, although both the scale and number of dismantled clandestine laboratories have been declining in recent years.
  • The emergence of new psychoactive substances (NPS), albeit still at a low level, continues to present a challenge for drug control and health responses in Indonesia.

Overview of the drug situation

Crystalline methamphetamine remains the primary drug of concern in Indonesia. Recent data on seizures, purity and prices indicate a greater availability of crystalline methamphetamine in the country. There are indications that “ecstasy” use has been increasing in recent years and some quantities of the drug have been continuously manufactured domestically. In addition, transnational organized criminal groups from both within and outside East and South-East Asia continue to target Indonesia as a transit and destination country for illicit drugs, in particular methamphetamine.

According to the most recent national drug use survey (2015), approximately 0.6 % of the general population between the ages of 10 and 59 years were estimated to have used an illicit drug at least once in 2015. Cannabis remains the most illicitly used drug in the country with an annual prevalence of approximately 0.18%, followed by methamphetamine at 0.09%. In addition, the use of dextromethorphan, a cough suppressant, has increased rapidly among drug users in recent years. Heroin use in Indonesia, which has in the past had a large market for low-purity heroin, has shown an overall declining trend over the period 2011-2015.

Table 1. Trend in use of selected drugs in Indonesia, 2011-2015

In 2015, a total of 1,321 persons received drug treatment of which approximately 28% (370 persons) were due to the use of amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS).

According to expert perception (see Table 1), crystalline methamphetamine use trends have been stable over the last five years. ). While the increasing trend in the number of methamphetamine related arrests as well as seizure amounts could reflect increased law enforcement activities, price and purity trends point to an increased availability of methamphetamine on the market. Between 2008 and 2015, the number of methamphetamine related arrests nearly tripled, from 8,685 persons in 2008 to 23,420 persons in 2015. Of the 23,420 arrestees, approximately 7% were women (1,693 arrestees), while foreign nationals accounted for 0.5% (124 arrestees) of the total. With regard to “ecstasy”, the number of arrests decreased by 85% from 2,947 in 2008 to 444 in 2014. However, a total of 1,307 persons were arrested for “ecstasy” in 2015, marking nearly a 200% increase compared to 2014.

Figure 1. Methamphetamine related arrests in Indonesia, 2008 – 2015

Substantial quantities of crystalline methamphetamine have been seized in Indonesia in recent years.

In 2015, seizures of crystalline methamphetamine amounted to 4,420 kg, which was by far the largest amount ever reported from Indonesia. It is imperative to note that the 2015 figure represents more than a two-fold increase compared to the previous record reported in 2012 (2,054 kg). This steep increase is due to the seizure of several methamphetamine shipments containing hundreds of kg of the drug, originating from outside the country. Seizures of “ecstasy” in Indonesia have been fluctuating over the last decade. In 2015, almost 2 million “ecstasy” tablets were seized, representing a 300 % increase compared to 2014, but significantly less than 2012 when the record number of 4.3 million tablets was seized.

The trafficking of crystalline methamphetamine into Indonesia by transnational organized criminal groups continues to be of major concern. In particular, drug trafficking groups based in China are reported to be responsible for significant amounts of methamphetamine trafficked to the country in recent years.  For instance, approximately 862 kg and 270 kg of crystalline methamphetamine originating from China were seized in Indonesia in January and October 2015, respectively. Malaysia is also a major country of origin of seized crystalline methamphetamine in Indonesia. In particular, Indonesia’s Aceh province, located in North Sumatra, is used a major hub for methamphetamine trafficked from Malaysia to the country.  African drug trafficking syndicates, also continue to target Indonesia for trafficking of illicit drugs, including methamphetamine Drug couriers from Indonesia and other neighbouring countries in South-East Asia, often recruited through social media platforms, have been used by these syndicates. According to Indonesian national authorities, there are indications that increasing amounts of crystalline methamphetamine have been trafficked by sea in recent years. In 2013, only about 4% of the total amount of crystalline methamphetamine seizures made in Indonesia was trafficked by sea, a share which increased to 14 % and 80 % respectively in 2014 and 2015. This development is a significant concern, considering the large number of islands and extensive maritime boundaries of the country.

Manufacture of ATS continues to take place in Indonesia, even though it appears to be declining in recent years. In 2015, a total of three illicit ATS manufacture facilities were dismantled in Indonesia, all of which were small-scale crystalline methamphetamine manufacturing facilities.

Table 2. Seizures of selected drugs in Indonesia, 2011-2015

The purity level of crystalline methamphetamine has significantly increased in recent years. Crystalline methamphetamine samples analysed at the retail level in the last two years (2014 and 2015) had an average purity level of around 80%, a strong increase compared to average purities of 40% and 53% reported in 2012 and 2013. Over the same period, the price of 1 gram of crystalline methamphetamine at the retail level fell below the price ranges of USD 155 – 250 in 2012 and USD 183 – 230 in 2013 to a typical price of USD 153 in 2014 and 2015. This increase in the purity and decline in retail prices at a time of rising seizure amounts are indications of an increased availability of crystalline methamphetamine in the country, probably due to trafficking of large shipments from outside of the country. Similar to 2014, the retail price of an “ecstasy” tablet was approximately USD 31 in 2015.  

The use of new psychoactive substances (NPS) is an emerging threat in Indonesia, though their use is not widespread. As of March 2017, a total of 56 different NPS were identified in the country. Some of the identified NPS include bk-MDEA (a phenethylamine), buphedrone (a synthetic cathinone), 5-MeO-MiPT (a tryptamine), FUB-144 and AB-CHMINACA (both synthetic cannabinoids). Indonesian national authorities continue to seize some amounts of ketamine. However, during the past few years, declining quantities of the drug have been seized in the country.