Palembang on Sumatra Island in Indonesia. Photo: iStock

A total of nine people were given the death penalty in Indonesia after they were found guilty of transporting a large consignment of crystal methamphetamine about a year ago.

The nine men, all from Surabaya in East Java, were caught moving the drugs from Palembang in southern Sumatra to Java from March to April last year, The Jakarta Post reported. They reportedly used a truck loaded with cassava as cover for the drugs.

Police initially caught three suspects who had dropped 3.5 kilograms of crystal meth at an airport in Palembang. Those arrests led to the five more suspects being nabbed at a hotel in Surabaya. Some 4,950 ecstasy pills and 5.8 kilograms of meth were also found in the hotel.

Members of the gang were blamed for trafficking a total of 80kg of crystal meth or ‘ice’.

A man called Letto, 25, was named as leader of the gang. The other eight were said to be in their 20s.

Presiding Judge Efrata Tarigan said the defendants had damaged young people while the government was waging a war on narcotic drugs. Prosecutors reportedly sought a life sentence for the accused before the Palembang District Court gave them all the death penalty.

Arif Rahman, the lawyer defending the nine, said the verdict would be appealed, saying the defendants were “victims” of a larger drug syndicate.

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