Death-row Indonesian kingpin ran drug ring from prison: police

In this file photo,officers from various Indonesian drug enforcement agencies prepare confiscated narcotics to be destroyed in an incinerator following a ceremony in Jakarta, Indonesia.(Reuters)
Updated 08 February 2018

Death-row Indonesian kingpin ran drug ring from prison: police

JAKARTA: A jailed Indonesian drug lord facing execution ran a meth-and-ecstasy ring from behind bars, police said Thursday, as officials announced his narcotics network had been smashed.
A dozen people were arrested as police said they seized nearly 111 kilos (about 245 pounds) of methamphetamine and more than 18,000 pills of ecstasy in Aceh and North Sumatra provinces.
Convicted drug kingpin Togiman, also known as Toge, ran the group from prison, despite already having been sentenced to death twice for narcotics trafficking, police said, adding that the ring had links to Malaysian organized crime.
“The mastermind was Togiman,” said Sulistiandriatmoko, spokesman for Indonesia’s anti-drugs agency.
“He must have had many other accomplices. (The suspects are) probably just the first few that we have caught. We’ll investigate this further and coordinate with international anti-narcotics (agencies) if needed.”
Togiman, who is in his early 60s, will be charged with drug trafficking, officials said, adding that it would be up to the courts to decide whether he should face another death sentence.
The twelve arrested suspects have been charged with drug trafficking and could face execution or life in prison.
Togiman was already in jail when he was again convicted of drug trafficking and sentenced to death for the second time last year. It is not known when Togiman might be executed
It was also unclear how he was able to operate a criminal network while incarcerated, but corruption-riddled Indonesia’s prisons are known for rampant crime.
“Fifty percent of drug trafficking is being done from inside prisons,” Budi Waseso, head of the anti-drugs agency, told reporters.
Last year, the government vowed to jail guards caught taking bribes from inmates in exchange for special treatment.
In one of the highest profile cases, a businesswoman jailed for corruption was found with banned items in her cell, including a spring mattress, couch, refrigerator, television and air conditioning.
Indonesia has some of the world’s toughest anti-drug laws. Several foreign and Indonesian nationals have been executed by firing squad in recent years for drug trafficking, including Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran in 2015, a case that sparked diplomatic outrage and a call to abolish the penalty.
Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo has said the country is facing a “drug emergency” and previously ordered police to shoot drug traffickers who resist arrest.


Iran deal architect among veterans named for Biden State Department

Updated 16 January 2021

Iran deal architect among veterans named for Biden State Department

WASHINGTON: The lead US negotiator of the Iran nuclear accord and a battle-tested hawk on Russia were named Saturday to top posts at President-elect Joe Biden’s State Department, signaling a return to normal after Donald Trump’s chaotic presidency.
Wendy Sherman, who brokered the Iran accord under Barack Obama and negotiated a nuclear deal with North Korea under Bill Clinton, was named as deputy secretary of state.
Victoria Nuland, a former career diplomat best known for her robust support for Ukrainian protesters in the ouster of a Russian-aligned president, was nominated under secretary for political affairs — the State Department’s third-ranking post in charge of day-to-day US diplomacy.
Biden said that the State Department nominees “have secured some of the most defining national security and diplomatic achievements in recent memory.”
“I am confident that they will use their diplomatic experience and skill to restore America’s global and moral leadership. America is back,” Biden said in a statement.
The State Department team will work under secretary of state-designate Antony Blinken, whose confirmation hearing will take place on Tuesday on the eve of Biden’s inauguration.
Blinken said that the State Department team, with women and ethnic minorities in prominent positions, “looks like America.”
“America at its best still has a greater capacity than any other country on earth to mobilize others to meet the challenges of our time,” Blinken said.
The optimism comes amid rising doubts about US leadership in Trump’s waning days after his supporters ransacked the Capitol on January 6 to try to stop the ceremonial certification of Biden’s victory.
Under outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a staunch defender of Trump, the United States has aggressively challenged Iran and China, robustly backed Israel and toyed with improving ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin, while also imposing sanctions on Moscow.
Sherman’s nomination marks another clear sign that Biden wants to return to the accord under which Iran drastically slashed its nuclear program in exchange for promises of sanctions relief.
Trump exited the deal in 2018 and imposed sweeping sanctions in what many observers saw as an unsuccessful attempt to topple the Shiite clerical regime.