Apriadi Gunawan, Medan – The North Sumatra Police have acknowledged that gambling remains rife in various regions across the province due to the protection afforded to gambling practices from corrupt members of the police and the Indonesian Military (TNI).
North Sumatra Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Heru Prakoso said on Thursday that the police had taken stern action against many corrupt members of the police and the TNI for providing protection to gambling practices in the province.
However, he added that these measures had failed to act as a deterrent, with gambling remaining a problem.
Heru said most of the gambling activities currently ongoing in the province were well organized and involved the state apparatus. He added that to eradicate gambling, the provincial police had formed a special team consisting of selected members from various units.
"The special team, formed by the provincial police chief, has the main task of eradicating gambling in North Sumatra. The team consists of selected members from the Mobile Brigade's bomb squad and detectives units," Heru told The Jakarta Post.
Heru said the team had already busted a dice gambling den in Medan Sunggal district. In the raid, led by Comr. Yusuf, officers were able to arrest a suspect, identified as Alung, and gather evidence.
The police's raid on the gambling den, which is believed to have reaped hundreds of millions of rupiah daily, was reportedly hampered by a number of TNI soldiers.
Some of the soldiers were also rumored to have been involved in a clash with members of the police special team, allegedly fleeing with five gamblers and evidence that the police team had earlier held. The police only managed to detain a single suspect.
"The suspect is currently undergoing interrogation," said Heru, adding the suspect had admitted that the gambling den could reap Rp 8 million (US$950) from a single round of a dice game, and that the den had been operating for a long time, from morning until late evening on a daily basis.
In response to TNI soldiers allegedly faciliating the escape of the five gambling suspects, Heru said police would coordinate with the local military police unit to investigate the matter.
When asked for confirmation on the alleged involvement of the TNI, Bukit Barisan Military Command chief spokesman Lt. Col. Halilintar was unavailable.
However, the Military Command's head of general information, Capt. Makmun H.T., denied the matter. "It's impossible for TNI soldiers to protect gambling. It's not true, especially reports saying that many soldiers are involved," said Makmun.