The upcoming third batch of the execution of drug convict has once again triggered controversy. Supported with official data, some have stated that the death penalty is actually not the answer to Indonesia’s drug problem. Some have even stated that those, who were busted and sentenced to death, are only courier and not big dealers. Most of them are coming from lower middle income family. I asked myself Is that statement correct? The controversy actually raises a lot of questions in my head, such as “What do we really know about drug syndicates in Indonesia? Are those who were arrested just victims and being trapped? Or, are they professional drug runners? What do we really know about the Brazilian drug runner Marco Archer Cardoso Moreira, who has been executed in early 2015? Was he just a courier? What about Mary Jane Veloso? What do we really know about the world illicit in Indonesia?” I have heard some stories but honestly it was still unclear to me. But when I read Snowing in Bali: The Incredible Inside Account of Bali’s Hidden Drug World, much was reveled.
Written by Kathryn Bonella, the author of Hotel K: The Shocking Inside Story of Bali’s Notorious Jail, Snowing in Bali highlights the drug world in Bali with interesting details. It opens the readers eyes about why people choose to enter the drug world, how the drug syndicate works, who those drug convicts are, how drug syndicates deal with the Indonesian legal system and what drugs can do to people.
One of the characters identified as Rafael, who is described as a former Brazilian cocaine boss in Bali, reveals stories of Peruvian and Brazilian’s drug syndicate in the island of God. The Bali-based Peruvian and Brazilian drug syndicate has been trafficking drugs in Peru, Brazil, the Netherland, Sweden, South Africa, Thailand, Indonesia as well as Australia.
Despite the fact Rafael appears as the main character in Snowing in Bali , it also highlights the story of Brazilian Marco Archer Cardoso Moreira who was executed by firing squad in early 2015. Apparently, Marco has been a long time player who started his business in the 90s as a marijuana dealer in Indonesia. He imported top quality marijuana from the Netherland to Indonesia. Among his peers, Marco was known as a Lemon Juice’s King. Interestingly enough, Rafael actually started his career as a freelance marijuana salesman for Marco.
As a freelance marijuana’s salesman, Rafael generated a huge profit which can pay for his fancy lifestyle in Bali. Knowing how easy it is to make fast cash through drug trafficking, Rafael has turned himself from a salesman to drug runner and quickly to be one of the biggest cocaine player in Bali. He trafficked cocaine from Peru to Indonesia as well as Australia over the years. He had huge villa, nice cars, fancy motorbike, designer fashion collection and also a hell lot of money.
Surprisingly, many people who want to earn fast cash and enjoy a good life but do not want to do a real job, some would sometimes go to a dealer and request for ‘a job as a drug runner’. Although it is a risky job, many would take it anyway.
An older Brazilian woman, who has been living in Bali for 20 years, sidled up to him at parties hustling for a chance to run. “I need a job. I can do it – nobody is going to stop me because I’m old. Let’s do it. (p.56)
However, every party must come to end sometimes. Many of Rafael friends, includes his own wife Anna, were arrested by authorities across the globe. Not forget to mention his former ‘boss’ the Brazilian Lemon Juice King Marco who had always been very confident that he would be able to escape from the authorities or even the death. Luckily, unlike Marco and Anna, Rafael managed to escape from the authorities and did not end up in jail. Nevertheless, he still has to face another consequences. His wealth slowly went down to the drain, he could not even pay the basic bill. Rafael then decided to leave the game.
In the end, after all the glamour, I don’t feel proud. I try to forget this shit. Because I don’t think it is cool. I poison people here with this shit just for money, nothing else. Poison people, fuck families, even make people die from overdose. I like to show off in that time. For what? Now I have different value for life. (p. 387)
Reading the 401 pages of book actually makes me thinking twice whether I have to feel sorry about those drug convicts who are facing death penalty or not. Should I feel sorry for late the Brazilian Marco or Rodrigo Gullarte in the same way I feel sorry for the Philippine drug convict Mary Jane Veloso? The answer is NO.
Marco and Rodrigo are not the same as Mary Jane. Marco is a dealer, Rodrigo is a horse and Mary Jane is a mule. So what is the difference? Well, Marco and Rodrigo were aware with the risk meanwhile Mary Jane could have been trapped by greedy heartless dealer.
Mules are not the kind of people who work for me, people who come to Bali and enjoy life, this is a real horse. But mules are really, really desperate people. Really poor people, don’t speak English and they fall like flies– Andre, drug dealer (p. 166)
Rodrigo Gularte is a 32 years old rich upper middle-class guy from South Brazil. He was the black sheep in a rich family. He’d started sniffing solvents as a teenager and despite his mother trying to set him up in various careers, he chose to traffic drugs (p.286)
Overall, Snowing in Bali is very intriguing. I could not even stop reading the book. At the end, the readers actually can see the red line between many drug cases especially in Indonesia if only those drug cases have been exposed by the media continuously and properly. Reader don’t have to believe whether it’s objectively written or not but It is worth reading.