Singaporean drug courier suspect nabbed at Batam airport

JAKARTA - A Singaporean man with more than 4,500 Ecstasy pills strapped to his waist was detained at Batam's Hang Nadim airport before he could board a Lion Air flight for Jakarta on Monday.

The drugs had a street value of over one billion rupiah (S$127,000), Mr Suwarso, head of the airport's general affairs department, told reporters.

The man, Colin Heng Wee Keng, 43, allegedly held a ticket bearing another man's name and had initially resisted a search when he triggered an airport scanner before the departure gate.

"After we forcibly did so, we found a suspicious belt. He said it was stomachache medication that had to be strapped to him, but we did not believe that and upon inspection, these were found to be drugs," Mr Suwarso said.

"He said he obtained the pills from two women at Batam Centre terminal after he arrived. The goods were meant to be taken to Jakarta," he added. The pills were in five packs - four green "xiang niang" pills and one pack of "pink love" tablets.

If convicted, he could face between five and 20 years in jail.

The discovery comes as several drug couriers and shipments have been detained in Batam, 20km south-west of Singapore, in recent weeks.

Mr Suwarso said Heng had returned to Singapore from Malaysia by land on Saturday, and entered Batam on Monday morning by ferry from Singapore.

He had bought his ticket from a "fixer" at the airport, who persuaded a check-in counter official to let him through.

Both men have been given strong warnings, Mr Suwarso added.

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