Drug trafficker tunnels out of Indonesian jail through sewers

Prisoner under death sentence dug hole from cell in Jakarta into waste pipes to road outside

A Chinese national on death row who was detained at the Tangerang penitentiary in Banten has reportedly escaped from the facility through a self-dug tunnel.

Cai Changpan, 37, who was convicted of methamphetamine smuggling, dug a hole from his cell at the prison in the Tangerang area into waste pipes and from there to a road outside, a Jakarta police spokesman, Yusri Yunus, said.

According to a cellmate, Cai had planned the escape, which took place on 14 September, for five to six months using tools from a construction project in the prison kitchen, Yunus said.

Tangerang prison warden Jumadi confirmed the jailbreak, explaining that the Chinese national, Cai Ji Fan, left the penitentiary on Monday at around 2:30 a.m. through a sewer connected to the tunnel he had dug.

“We have conducted a search since the day he escaped. We believe he dug a tunnel [on the prison grounds] that goes through one of the prison walls and escaped,” he told tempo.co on Friday.

Illustration of prison break(Shutterstock.com/File)

Rika Aprianti, a spokeswoman for Indonesia’s directorate general of prisons, told media the trafficker, who also uses the name Cai Ji Fan, had timed his escape to the changing of the guards.

The convict, who also goes by the name Cai Changpan, was declared guilty of drug trafficking and sentenced to death in 2017. He had been transferred to the penitentiary from the Pemuda prison in Tangerang.

The warden said the Law and Human Rights Ministry’s Corrections Directorate General had taken over the case and opened an investigation.

According to the Indonesian news website detik.com, he was sentenced to death in 2017 for trafficking 135kg of crystal meth. A police investigation found 70kg of meth hidden in chicken coop cleaner equipment.

“The Corrections Directorate General, Inspectorate General and the ministry’s regional office in Banten are investigating the case,” directorate general spokesperson Rika Aprianti said.

Cai had previously broken out of a Jakarta police detention centre in 2017 by breaking a hole in a bathroom wall.

No lawyer or representative for Cai was immediately reachable for comment.

Police have put him on their most wanted list.


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