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N. Sumatra on red alert for increasing drug abuse

Indonesia's Anti-Narcotics National Movement (Granat) has warned that North Sumatra is in a state of emergency following a recent surge in the number of drug users in the province.

Granat Secretary-General Zulkarnaen Nasution said that the number of drug users in North Sumatra had reached 450,000, or about 3 percent of the province's total population.

“What is concerning is that almost 75 percent of the drug users in this region are in their productive ages. This is a code-red for North Sumatra,” Nasution told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

He said number of drug users was higher than the national average, which was only 2.5 percent of the total population.

“The number of drug users in this province (is higher) than the national average, which has been increasing by 0.3 percent annually,” he said.

He blamed the increase on a distribution boom that was aided by the province's wealth of entry points for drugs smuggled in from abroad.

Nasution cited seaports along the province's eastern coast as areas of especial concern.

North Sumatra Police's drug deputy director Adj. Sr. Comr. Yuspan Alfiani said that the number of drug cases had been steadily increasing in the region. During the last three months, he said, his office had processed 16 drug cases involving 19 suspects.

One of the suspects, a 27-year-old Thai woman named Tipan Prakusa was recently arrested at Kuala Namu airport in Deli Serdang regency as she attempted to smuggle 476 grams of crystal methamphetamine, or shabu-shabu, in her shoes and bodily orifices from Malaysia.

“In total we have seized 7,742 grams of shabu worth billions of rupiah from the 19 suspects. All of it has been destroyed today,” Yuspan said at the North Sumatra Police headquarters on Thursday.

The crystal methamphetamine was destroyed by boiling it in a big container. Representatives of the North Sumatra branch of the National Narcotics Agency (BNN) the Medan Food and Drug Agency and the local prosecutors兼 office were present as witnesses.

North Sumatra, he said, had the third highest rate of drug abuse in Indonesia. “We call on all parties to participate in the fight against drugs.”

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