Subject: Drugs, vice mobsters get foothold in East Timor

The Age

Drugs, vice mobsters get foothold in East Timor

Lindsay Murdoch, Darwin

February 28, 2008

A CRIME syndicate with links to former pro-Indonesian militias supplied drugs to youth gang members involved in violent attacks in East Timor.

This is the finding of an investigation ordered by East Timor's President Jose Ramos Horta.

It also found girls as young as 12 were being trafficked into East Timor for prostitution, some at a brothel frequented by United Nations personnel.

A report on the investigation, obtained by The Age, criticises the Australian-led International Stabilisation Force (ISF) and United Nations police in East Timor for failing to "recognise the importance and gravity of this new phenomenon" in the troubled country of 1 million.

"The swiftness in which international drug syndicates mobilised into Timor Leste (East Timor) was underestimated by the international security forces," the report said.

But within days of Mr Ramos Horta receiving the report last month, East Timor and United Nations police began raids in the capital, Dili, and arrested almost 100 Timorese and foreigners on drugs and prostitution charges.

Mr Ramos Horta is recovering in Royal Darwin Hospital from gunshot wounds received in a rebel attack on February 11.

The confidential report said girls aged between 12 and 15 were brought from Indonesian West Timor and held in safe houses in Dili and "only brought out on request" to a brothel operated by a drugs and human trafficking syndicate.

The head of the syndicate, an Indonesian, had "strong and lucrative" links to martial arts gangs, the report said.

The report identified two shipments of methamphetamine, known as sabu sabu or ice, into Dili in December by a syndicate "controlled by Timorese-Indonesian nationals with clear ties to, and possibly funded by, ex-militia elements in West Timor".

There is no suggestion that Indonesian authorities are behind any illegal activities in East Timor.

The report said the arrival in Dili of crime syndicates required "serious attention" but warned that without extensive surveillance before police raids the syndicates "might begin to operate in a more clandestine and careful manner, making them harder to track and target".

The British Government is being urged to order warrants for the arrests of two former Indonesian military leaders linked to the killings of the Balibo Five.

A Liberal Democrat MP, Don Foster, has requested the Government to ask Interpol to issue arrests for the Indonesians, named last year by a NSW coroner in connection with the 1975 killings of the newsmen in East Timor. Two of the victims, Brian Peters and Malcolm Rennie, were British. Two were Australian and one was from New Zealand.

East Timor security forces have seized a cache of homemade weapons and detained a foreign citizen suspected of helping rebel soldiers involved in the attack on the country's leaders.

Filomeno Paixao, head of the Joint Command, said homemade weapons including a grenade, knives and arrows, as well as 500 military uniforms, had been found in the house of a foreigner near Dili.

"We have brought the man to the investigation unit because he is believed to be helping rebels," he said.


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