Bootlegged liquor kills more than 100 in Indonesia
April 11 Email the author
More than 100 people have died of drinking toxic alcohol in Indonesia in April, as a consequence of the black market that thrives in the country with strong curbs on legal alcohol sales.
The majority Muslim country banned tens of thousands of minimarts and other convenience stores from selling alcohol in 2015, and high taxes on alcohol where it is still sold have created a thriving black market for poorer residents.
Police have announced a crackdown on producers, distributors and sellers in an attempt to stop the recent surge of deaths and hospitalizations of people suffering nausea, blurry vision and loss of consciousness, according to the Associated Press.
âThis is a crazy phenomenon,â deputy national police chief Muhammad Syafruddin said at a news conference. âIf we let it continue, it will harm the nation.â
Police displayed seven h andcuffed suspects at the news conference, as well as confiscated alcohol from raids. Some of the alcohol was in clear plastic bags selling for about $1.80, the Associated Press reported.
Syafruddin called for illegal alcohol production to be completely eradicated, a goal of which some researchers said they were skeptical.
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âIf what is needed is limited in the legal market because of policies, then the need would be fulfilled by those who want to make a profitâ from the black market, said Sugianto Tandra, a researcher at the Center for Indonesian Policy Studies, told the AP. âThe current incidence of rampant bootleg alcohol is because there is a need to drink, but the product is not available in the legal market.â
Police said pure alcohol was combined with things like cough syrup and insect repellent in some of the deaths they had tracked. And some of the seized products contained methanol, a potentially lethal byproduct of bootleg distilling.
Andri Rizal, 28, a construction worker who was sickened after drinking palm wine, told the AP that he had mixed the wine with another intoxicating drink.
âWe purchased and mixed it with the palm wine just to make it feel better and slower to get drunk,â he said. âIt was not like usual when itâs instantly delicious. I felt limp and dizzy.â
The AP cited an Indonesian newspaperâs figure that 32 people died in country from bootlegged liquor during all of 2017.
Some have speculated that the deaths this year might be related to a single distributor but police have not cited any evidence in support of that.
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