Australian Herbalist Busted for Shabu-Shabu

A 45-year-old Australian, Travis James McLeod, is in police custody in Bali after being arrested for the possession of 0.86 grams of methamphetamines. 

As reported by NusaBali, after police raided McLeod’s home, they found a large amount of Kratom – (Mitragyna speciosa) – a traditional herbal plant that, once processed, is used as a stimulant.

The head of the Denpasar Police Precinct, Commissioner Jansen Avitus Panjaitan, revealed to the press on Wednesday, 11 November 2020, details of McLeod’s “cottage industry” of cultivating a herbal substance. The plants were found at McLeod’s rented accommodation at Jalan Beraban Nomor 70 X, Banjar Taman, Kerobokan Kelod, Kecamatan Kuta Utara.

When inspecting McLeod’s quarters, police found kratom plants, liquid chemicals, and thousands of capsules. The materials were seized by police and taken to the police forensic laboratory for further analysis.

Police also seized from McLeod’s home five 20-liter jerrycans of chemicals, seven small bottles filled with a nondescript chemical, a plastic bag containing a white powder, three baking sheets containing a light-green powder, nine baking sheets holding a doughy mixture, and various other unknown substance. 

Jansen told the press: “There is a problem in how police will handle this case. The review by the forensic laboratory has identified the substance as Kratom. The Indonesian Department of Health does not classify Kratom as a narcotic or dangerous substance. Nonetheless, the effects of Kratom is not unlike that of taking shabu-shabu (methamphetamines).”

For the time being, McLeod is being held only on charges of the illegal possession of methamphetamines.

McLeod told police he has been operating his herbal home industry for the past six-months making Kratom for sale to other expatriates in Bali. Police found several envelopes of Kratom in McLeod’s home, each bearing the names of customers who had reportedly ordered the substance from the Australian.

McLeod reportedly told police that he purchased the leaves and flowers in West Kalimantan that he brought to Bali for processing with chemicals before inserting the substance in capsules for sales to the public. Jansen said the “high” created by Kratom’s consumption can create a hallucination that can last for seven hours. 

 Police continue to investigate McLeod’s home cottage industry in Bali, seeking to uncover his entire distribution network. 

Kratom production and consumption are, according to NusaBali, not illegal in McLeod’s home country of Australia. 

McLeod has lived in Bali for the past 2.5 years. In connection with his possession of methamphetamines, he is initially charged under Indonesia’s strict anti-narcotic laws with a crime that can carry a minimum sentence of four years to a maximum of 12 years in prison. The supplemental mandatory financial penalties range from a minimum of Rp. 800 million to a maximum of Rp. 8 billion.

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