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American Gets Drug Death Sentence in Indonesia

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #643)

A court in Jakarta has sentenced a US citizen to death for his role in an international drug trafficking organization, the Jakarta Globe reported Wednesday. Frank Amado, 46, had been arrested in October carrying more than a pound of methamphetamine outside of his apartment. Police found 11 more pounds of meth when they searched his apartment.

"Considering that during the hearings there was nothing that could lighten the defendant's sentence, and that after deliberations the judges found the defendant proven guilty of the primary charge against him, the defendant is sentenced to death," presiding Judge Dehel Sandan said as he read out the court’s verdict. "Frank intentionally committed a criminal act, unlawfully becoming a courier in a Class I narcotics trade together with Peyman bin Azizallah aka Sorena aka Paulo Russo," Judge Dehel continued.

Peyman, an Iranian citizen, had been getting drugs from two other Iranians, who fled and are still at large. Peyman then turned the drugs over to Amado for delivery. It's unclear what happened to Peyman.

"The defendant was actively involved in a large-scale drug trade that could have fatal consequences for society, especially the younger generation. The sentence was to act as a deterrent for foreigners involved in the drug trade," Judge Dehel said.

According to a June report from the   International Harm Reduction Association , The Death Penalty for Drug Offenses 2010: A Global Overview, Indonesia is one of a group eight Asian and Middle Eastern nations with a "low commitment" to the death penalty for drug offenses, meaning that while they had the death penalty on the books for drug offenses, they applied it sparingly in practice.

The report said two people were executed for drug crimes in 2008 and none last year. But of 111 people on Indonesia's death row, 56 are there for drugs.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Hui (not verified)

Well meth and in pounds yeah...why not death. If it was Cannabis or mushrooms i would say free that innocent man with natural flowers n fungi but nah meth is terrible!

Thu, 08/05/2010 - 5:39pm Permalink
G.Knight (not verified)

In reply to by Hui (not verified)

Death penalties serve no purpose, but only as an indictment upon the society that promotes them. Mr. Amado "screwed-up" ... period. He made a very unwise decision, that he regrets to this day. He deserves life, as we all do, but a life in humane conditions and not those of the barbaric prisons of Jakarta.

Thu, 01/13/2011 - 1:09pm Permalink

Yes, draconian penalties must be applied pour l'encouager les autres. Of course, those who traffic in legal drugs are upstanding citizens. (Smoking kills more than 400,000 Indonesians each year.)

Adam Smith, he of the Scottish enlightenment, had a different take on a smuggler: "a person, who, though no doubt highly blameable for violating the laws of his country, is frequently incapable of violating those of natural justice, and would have been, in every respect, an excellent citizen, had not the laws of his country made that a crime which nature never meant to be so."

And more Smith: "An injudicious tax [or prohibition] offers a great temptation to smuggling. But the penalties of smuggling must rise in proportion to the temptation. The law, contrary to all the ordinary principles of justice, first creates the temptation, and then punishes those who yield to it; and it commonly enhances the punishment too in proportion to the very circumstance which ought certainly to alleviate it, the temptation to commit the crime."

Drug prohibition is an insanely bad policy; the good news is that it is so bad that it is doomed, but its demise unfortunately will not come soon enough for Mr. Amado or many other non-violent offenders who fall into its maw.

Thu, 08/05/2010 - 8:27pm Permalink
deadheadale (not verified)

he got what he deserves methamphetamine is a horrible drug and ive lost many friends to it as well as myself for a few years its a pointless government created drug that was made for war and increased production efforts from citizens for corporations profits. but it failed and now they see what kind of a monster they made. the wars are now on the street and the production efforts are concentrated in gangs and violent crimes. its one of the big three that should never and will never be legalized (meth, heroin and cocaine)

Sun, 08/08/2010 - 5:33pm Permalink
against death … (not verified)

In reply to by deadheadale (not verified)

I don't know how anybody could be so cruel to say they deserve to  die. Did you ever have anybody a brother,sister, or son on death row???? I guess not otherwise you would not say things like that.

For your sake I hope you never will be in this situation that somebody of your family is sent to the death squadron.

Whatever you belief might the Lord forgive your thoughts

Sun, 01/16/2011 - 10:06am Permalink
suckafree (not verified)

In reply to by deadheadale (not verified)

You also get what you deserve, you are an adult that is of able mind and body mentally capable of the decisions you make in life. How can you justify what he is going through right now just because you and your friends wanted to get high? I hope you get help, may God have mercy on your soul!!

Mon, 02/14/2011 - 7:09pm Permalink
nadia (not verified)

In reply to by deadheadale (not verified)

no offense but its ur fault u decided to take the drug noone forced you so dont blame ur problems on noone but ur self and i bet you wouldnt be saying that if it were one of ur family memebers

Wed, 03/30/2011 - 10:58am Permalink
Rio (not verified)

In reply to by deadheadale (not verified)

If you and your friends took meth, then you are every bit as guilty because you are the ones who created the market, enabling the profitability of the drug trade. In fact, the way I see it, your guilt is far greater because you just wanted to get high. While he was struggling for his very survival. Even worse, not only are you blaming this man for your own bad decisions that led to your own addiction, but are actually blaming the govt. and corporations as well? The real monster here is your own victim mentality, and refusal to take any of the responsibility for your own actions. Obviously rehab. was wasted on you. Let's add your lack of compassion and empathy for anyone but yourself. I don't believe anyone deserves to die, but if you believe that he deserves to die, then so do you. You first.
Fri, 05/01/2015 - 8:44pm Permalink
geff (not verified)


You cant telling people its not right to kill people by killing others for punishment.....ludacris...

Sat, 08/14/2010 - 1:16pm Permalink
toad666 (not verified)

If this person knew the punishment and chose to break the law anyway then he knew the risk. His greed outweighed his better judgement and now he'll pay the price. It may serve to deter someone else trying to make the same decision.

Does it rehabilitate him? No. The death penalty isn't about rehab. It's meant to deter those before they break the law.

If he wanted a low risk place to deal drugs, he should have moved to a country that slaps the wrists of offenders instead... but he'd have had more competition.

Wed, 09/01/2010 - 2:37pm Permalink
Anony48938493 (not verified)

this man made a big mistake; he didn't know what he was getting into because those above him told him differently.  his biggest mistake was the fact that he didn't research the penalty for his actions before he got involved, nor did he know the extent of his role in the crime.  people have done a lot worse things with money as the can hire a hitman in these countries for less than $100 (US).  this man is not a bad person; he's like any other good person who made a mistake. i, in no way, condone his behavior, but i also do not condone the death penalty for any action.  please, have a heart.  if this was your brother or your friend, you wouldn't share this same message of "long live the death penalty." in what world does one man have the power to decide if another has the right to live?

Sun, 09/12/2010 - 8:45am Permalink
Frank Amado (not verified)

I just wish to say to all of you, thanks for taking the time and having an interest in this most unique of situations I find myself in.

Let me just address a few things I've seen in the commentary above.  First of all, I thank those of you who are on my side and wish me to go free, or at least to live. As for those of you who feel I got what I deserve, I won't argue with you as it is your opinion, and everyone is supposed to be entitled to have their own, so I'm not going to try to give five hundred whiny excuses to try to change your thinking.  Everyone here has made good points and valid arguments.  I, for one, would never condone the death penalty for anyone, and I’m not saying this because of the position I find myself in now. However, I can't say what I might do in a fit of rage if I saw someone killing or raping someone I love, as I fortunately haven't been in that situation and can't tell you from experience how I would react.

I digress. Let me just say this, I realize that I made a big and STUPID mistake.  It is true that I did check on the penalties and questioned my boss because I had read about the death penalty in Indonesia for drug traffickers. He told me that what I would be doing didn't have as severe of a sentence attached to it and that, if for some reason, I was caught, the worst that I could expect would be a couple of months in jail, and then a deportation back to the United States. Considering that I had, due to the global financial crisis, been subsisting on barely enough income to keep myself, and my girlfriend, fed and off the street for lack of adequate legal work, I jumped at the opportunity to get our lives back on track with the promise of three months of work with an income of $20,000 per month. By the way, a promise was all it was, as I was lucky if I made close to 20% of that amount.

Additionally, I was completely naive to the drug trade. I was told I would be handling 'Ice' or 'Shabu' as it is called here. I did my share of pot-smoking back in my teenage years into my early 20's, but shy of that I really had no clue about what this drug can do. After being in this prison though, I see first-hand the negative effects it has on the bodies of most of the other inmates on a daily basis, so had I known what it was and the misery it caused, ‘no’ I would not have become another cog in the wheel of trading this terrible life-destroying drug known as crystal meth.

Anyway, be that as it may, that I didn’t know the risks, the fact that, shame on my boss, I was lied to about the possible consequences of my actions, and that I didn’t really have an understanding of what kind of drug I was transporting--all these are good excuses, but it doesn’t lessen the facts that, 1. I did commit a crime, and 2. It was my choice to believe the lies I was being told by my boss when I could have investigated further. Period.

I can honestly tell you I obviously have no desire to die. And, as I said earlier, I would never, under any circumstances, deprive someone of their life. I know I did wrong, and even though I disagree with the sentence I’ve been handed, my argument isn’t with the fact that I got a death sentence.

What my argument is in regards to is this system and how it destroys the lives of so many, many completely innocent people all because of greed and for monetary and political gain.  The corruption in this place is unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed in even the most bizarre of twisted Hollywood, B movies.

I see people in here falsely imprisoned based on pleas of guilt that were coerced out of them during beatings so severe that they were left permanently disfigured with scars, missing teeth, and some even partially paralyzed or debilitated from torture methods that seem like a throwback to the Spanish Inquisition.

Not to mention, sentences that deprive even those that really did commit an offense, who for one ecstasy tablet will spend a minimum of 4 to 6 years in a place that I can only describe as a pit-stop on the way to hell.

I have a friend name Adeel, also an American inmate here, a very friendly, amiable, good-natured, 27 year-old guy, who was here on vacation and happened to be in a car with the son of a woman who was dealing drugs.  There was no evidence whatsoever that he was involved in any wrong-doing, and the woman even testified that she didn’t even know him and had never seen him before in her life. After his family was extorted by their lawyer, the prosecution, and judges in his case to the tune of U.S. $20,000, he received a 15 year sentence! And this is for him having done nothing and there being no evidence to prove otherwise.

These are only a few of many, many, many cases I’ve been witness to and the beatings I’ve seen the results of. I guess, as in one of the documents that is given to me as one of the very few courtesies put forth by the U.S. Embassy during the first of its quarterly visits, it states something to the effect that, “The Indonesian police have absolute power over any decisions made, regardless of evidence; their say is final.”

Now I wish to go into my arguments that were completely omitted in all my interviews by the Indonesian press. As a matter of fact, the only statement I made that they did write was worded completely wrong, and makes me sound like a belligerent ignoramus.

These are points I tried to make during the course of my kangaroo court trial and, had these arguments been made in any legal system in the world that had even the slightest bit of justice (even as a façade), this case would have been thrown out of the courtroom.

I’m not even going to bring up the coercion the BNN narcotics police used to get statements from me, or the threats and intimidation of having my then-girlfriend, an innocent by-stander, being charged, jailed and prosecuted along with me, for my refusal to sign documents and statements I didn’t agree with, not to mention the secondary trauma and stress of watching other inmates being beaten and scarred with long wooden 2 x 2 boards and harassed by guards trying to extort money from us on a daily basis, of being deprived of food and water for extended periods of time in the hot, over-crowded and cramped cells as punishment for not playing along with their railroading me to the harshest sentence possible. Or that the prosecutor demanded a bribe of $50,000 for me to get an unguaranteed 15-year sentence. I won’t even address any of that.

One of my main arguments was that the drugs that were taken from my apartment, and even shown to me at the prosecutor’s office before my being brought to the Salemba detention facility were completely different than what was brought out in evidence during my trial. I had heard from other people that the police here will routinely swap out the drugs that they confiscate and sell them themselves through their connections. This seems hard to even comprehend coming from a Western society but, nonetheless, it is apparently what happened. At that time I had already become acclimated to the amount of insane corruption in this country, but I was still a bit shocked at the fact that they didn’t at least have the decency to wait until after my trial was completed.

During the court session in which the evidence was being presented, I immediately recognized that the drugs were not of the large crystalline translucent white pieces that were originally confiscated from my apartment, but rather, they had been replaced with a substance that resembled wet dark brown sugar with a smattering of gooey orange particulates mixed in.

I tried to object, but was told I should wait by my lawyer who had throughout the trial proved himself to be little more than an incompetent coward. He spent most of the trial doodling on a pad while I argued with three judges and a prosecutor in a language I didn’t understand using a translator who also wouldn’t translate everything I said because, as she put it, “It wasn’t polite.” This was a fight for my life and I wasn’t even aware of it yet.

At a following court date, I had already written off my lackadaisical, lily-livered lawyer s he had proven himself to be more of a liability to my case than an asset. Even when the judge addressed him with a question, he trembled and stammered much like a timid 5 year-old boy would before an angered, domineering father.

On this day, the alleged evidence was paraded around before the judges again, at which time I lodged an objection.

At this point I need to preface that during the arrest, a special team was brought in to my apartment and they weighed and tested every one of the bags of drugs they found. In the police report there was an exact weight and chemical composition of all the drugs that were confiscated.

When I stated my case--that I knew these were not the drugs I was arrested with--instead of incredulity, the judges looked at me more with expressions of agitation and annoyance. I pointed out that neither the color, nor the consistency, nor the quantity, was accurate. At this point, I had guessed I was actually getting somewhere as all three judges seemed to manage being awake all at the same time--a rare feat indeed.

The next thing that started happening was that I started being grilled and ridiculed by the judges who were doing their best to pooh-pooh my objections and shut me up. I was, at this point, warned by the judge that if I didn’t stop what I was doing, things were going to go harder on me; this statement was just the fuel I needed to get me to push harder as I guess, from watching too many TV shows, I assumed that if I could prove evidence tampering, the case would have to be thrown out of court, and seeing that if a test had been done on the evidence in question, it was a goal I had to shoot for.

Unfortunately, as soon as I brought up the idea of testing the evidence, Judge Dehel Sandan got irate and told me that he had heard enough, and I was to be seated. No further testimony was allowed. Afterward, he said that they were going to pass the sentence which, incidentally, one of the other lawyers from the law firm who was “representing” me, said they had already heard the results of from one of the reporters outside in the court hallway. So, in other words the decision that I would be receiving a death sentence had already been made before the case was even complete!

As I stated previously, I definitely am not trying to plead innocence or ignorance of what I did being wrong. I think, however, that I have already paid dearly in what has transpired in my life. I’ve had every possible thing I own (down to my socks and underwear) stolen by the corrupt police, I’ve caused a great financial burden to my mother in particular, a woman who I don’t know where I would be now without in this situation. I have lost planned family times that we were to share together in her twilight years. Through this endeavor that was meant to get our lives back on track, I destroyed the two-year relationship which I was in. I have gone from being a strong bodybuilder with a great physique who looked less than his years, to an out-of-shape, flabby man with sore joints who sometimes has trouble standing up from lack of physical activity. I have endured some of the most grueling conditions of perpetual heat and humidity with inadequate ventilation, unhealthy, always-fried, greasy food (that must be bought) and rationed, lesion-causing, dirty water that is sometimes turned off for extended periods of time.

I have experienced long periods of time locked in cells designed for 4 to 5 people, but housing anywhere from 12 to 23 adult men. The same place where I would be sick every week with some combination of the following: dysentery, pink eye, skin rashes, cramps, flu, sore throats, fever, chills, athletes foot and other fungal infections. Without exaggeration, I honestly can say, the 16 months I’ve spent in here, have put about 5+ years on me physically.

Honestly, I don’t know what justice is, and who is in a position to decide how long someone needs to suffer before their transgressions are absolved, but I sincerely believe that a death sentence is a ridiculous and absurd price to pay for my crime, especially in a country as corrupt as Indonesia where one of my boss’s clients was actually the head of one of Jakarta’s drug bureaus. A place where I frequently see the police and guards come in to smoke crystal meth with the resident drug dealers. A place wherein the entire system appears to be run by thugs and criminals who don’t obey the same laws they pound over other people’s heads and ruin countless lives with.

I don’t deserve a death sentence, but if the alternative is to spend the rest of my life languishing in some rat’s nest island prison with no chance of ever experiencing freedom again, a firing squad seems like a welcome alternative.

Thu, 02/10/2011 - 6:10am Permalink
alison keller (not verified)

In reply to by Frank Amado (not verified)

please dont give up hope Frank, you have so much support from all 

over the world. you did commit a crime but DO NOT deserve the extreme

punishment they are dealing you, being in that prison alone is punishment

enough. try to imagine yourself being freed, imagine how u would feel, 

imagine the joy of meeting your family again, u can achieve all this through

the power of ur thoughts, its called the law of attraction. use the power of your

mind to get yourself out of this situation. the thoughts we think literally create 

the situations we find ourselves in, if you change your mind set and think only

positive thoughts about your release or a positive outcome u will see things

starting to change. u need to link these thoughts with emotion eg think 

i AM going to get out of here and FEEL they joy u would feel upon 

release. think only of your release, imagine people coming forward to 

help you, the law of attraction is extremely powerful, u will attract situations

of help. this sounds crazy but thats how this universe works, NOTHING is impossible, 

u CAN be set free, please take my advice and use the power of attraction, please think

positively about a realease, it is worth trying. keep your head up.

thinking of you, love your Irish friend Alison x

Sun, 02/13/2011 - 12:27pm Permalink
suckafree (not verified)

Frank, may God be with you.. My prayers go out to you and your family.. Be encouraged, keep your Faith and spirits up.. You are a shining light in all of the darkness around you..

Mon, 02/14/2011 - 7:30pm Permalink
john rose (not verified)

As I understand it, a judge imposes a prison sentence for three reasons. 1 To prevent the imprisoned person from committing more crimes during the period of their imprisonment. 2 To deter others from committing a similar crime. 3 As a punishment for the crime committed. In Mr. Amado's case number 1 doesn't apply. If he were to be freed today does anyone seriously believe he would return to being involved, in any way, with illegal drugs? Number 2 also doesn't apply, no person involved with drugs, or indeed any crime, ever believes they will be caught, otherwise they wouldn't do it. Since Mr, Amado's death sentence was passed others have been arrested and charged with the same crime, so obviously Mr. Amado's sentence didn't deter them. As for number 3, Is death an appropriate punishment for someone who didn't kill, or attempt to kill anyone, didn't rape anyone, wasn't a  child molester  or commit the sort of acts that newspapers normally class as "evil" ? In my opinion the answer is no. So, I truly can't see any benefit to anyone for Mr. Amado to be executed.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 6:23pm Permalink
Susan S. (not verified)

First of all I want to wish peace and blessings to Frank and his mother and sister.  While Frank may deserve some kind of penalty for his offense, he does not deserve the treatment he has received nor should he have received the death penalty.  It is disgusting that he received a harsher penalty than the drug bosses.  Regardless of what Frank has done he is entitled to due process, which is the right of every person regardless of what crime they are accused of.  From what I can tell there was little or no due process in the legal proceedings in this case.  How can the courts render any decision without due process?   Due process for all is one of the hallmarks of any civilized society.

Regardless of all of this, ALL life is precious and since people do not have the power to create life it only follows the people do not have the right take a life.  The death sentence does no good for anyone.  In the end, if a society takes life it is no better than the supposed criminals - it is then state sanctioned murder.  Reminds me of when we try to teach our children not to hit each other, etc.  This lesson is only meaningful if we don't do what we have instructed our children not to do.  It is absurd for a nation to claim that murder is a crime but it is then okay to do exactly that...strange lack of logic!

There is a concept in some parts of the world called restorative justice in which the offender is required to restore to the community what he/she has taken from them.  Restorative justice could take many forms but the basic idea is that the person who committed a wrong will do something to make it up to the community.  I see that as a much better alternative than what is in place now.  It would rehabilitate the alleged wrong doer and do something positive for the community.  I see this alternative particularly appropriate where an offender is not a violent offender. 

Sun, 05/29/2011 - 12:38am Permalink
Zeitgeist Anchorage (not verified)

I had a friend who was arrested in Indonesia for drug possession. A joint was sold to him on the beach by a boy, and within minutes after accepting it he was ambushed by drug police. They offered him a deal, in which he needed to pay $10,000 and he would be released. He didn't have the money, but gave them all he had, near $3,000. He was told he would be out within a week. Later a lawyer came and explained to him that he was being charged with a possession charge and was facing a minimum mandatory 4 year sentence. The lawyer said he could help him get the sentence reduced to a year, but he would require $15,000. My friend contacted his family who put a second mortgage on their house to get the money. The lawyer was given the money, and then the lawyer disappeared. His phone number was inactive and that was that. My friend ended up serving the full 4 year sentence, and after was taken to immigration, where he spent another month before he could get his family to send the $1,000 for an overstay fee!

Great system you got there. 

Sun, 02/12/2012 - 4:51pm Permalink
Justin May (not verified)

The Indonesian government and the people it controls are amongst the most corrupt in our world. I believe it to be a disgustingly weak, contrived culture on all kinds of levels. Murdering human beings to uphold the status quo's obsession with rules in a rule book should frighten us all deeply. We should never blame those who peddle drugs: our lack of compassion for each other; our fear and shame of each other is what we should be looking at, not them.

Addiction, the use of drugs, and the abuse of drugs is a health issue. In our hearts I feel we all know that. Do we truly care for our family and friends? If so I believe we would have long ago come together to confront these dysfunctional institutions called government. They have been trying to control us through one of our greatest weaknesses for just over a century now; it is oppression and it is despicable. Napolean Bonaparte saw this two hundred ago and stated if you want to control people you do it through their vices.

There are many reasons why I will not bring life into this world, the main one being that we cannot get the basics right in regards to water, food, clothing and shelter. But this issue has played a big role in my decision - I am sickened to the core of my soul by this and am ashamed to be human because of it.

Tue, 08/16/2016 - 9:53am Permalink
Wally Cleaver (not verified)

Oh poor poor frank, afraid to be out on the streets cause you where broke. So instead you trafficked drugs in a place you knew you could pay the ultimate price. Your a moron frank, a victim of your own stupidity. They will take you to the island soon and walk you out to the field. Will you stand, will you kneel will you sit? Who knows. Your getting what you deserve. Let this be a lesson to you druggies. Don’t do your drugs in Indonesia. They don’t tolerate your poisons
Thu, 02/28/2019 - 6:02am Permalink

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