Jakarta has a pervasive problem in the form of preman (street thugs), who often extort “security” money from local businesses. Police in West Jakarta took down a group of preman on Friday in an undercover sting, dramatic videos of which went viral over the weekend.
A post on Facebook, which was uploaded yesterday and already shared over 40,000 times, shows plain-clothed police officers arresting several thugs, some of them dressed as security guards, outside a strip of shophouses in Cengkareng, West Jakarta. The thugs appeared to try to fight back before they were subdued and cuffed after a couple of officers fired warnings shots into the air.
Para preman berkedok security ini , di tengarai memeras hingga puluhan juta rupiah selama bertahun2 di kompleks ruko…
The West Jakarta Police confirmed that the bust took place on Friday on the back of citizen complaints about the thugs. The preman had allegedly been extorting shop owners for years and vandalizing property if they weren’t paid, as seen in one of the videos above in which they destroyed a newly laid cement block in front of a shop.
“So in order to see if it’s true or not (that the thugs had been extorting shop owners), when an owner was getting construction material and workers in, we had our officers follow them,” West Jakarta Crime Investigation Unit Head Edy Suranta told Kompas yesterday.
“Our officers almost ended up being assaulted by the thugs, so we had to act assertively and arrest them.”
The thugs are still under investigation and the charges against them have not yet been revealed. However, Edy said that the thugs have been extorting shop owners there for years and demanding some pay up to IDR20 million (US$1,369) in “late security fees”.
In light of the arrest, the Jakarta Metro Police is urging the public to report any suspected preman to the police.