Jakarta police tracking down mastermind behind illegal surgical mask factory

Jakarta police tracking down mastermind behind illegal surgical mask factory

People shop for masks at a whole-sale market for medical stuffs, following the outbreak of the new
People shop for masks at a whole-sale market for medical stuffs, following the outbreak of the new coronavirus in China, in Jakarta, Indonesia, February 13, 2020. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

JAKARTA: The authorities are trying to locate the owner of an illegal factory that produced and sold surgical masks which were not in line with health standards, said a Jakarta police spokesman on Tuesday (Mar 3).

This comes after the police raided an illegal surgical mask factory in Cilincing, North Jakarta last week. Ten employees were detained during the raid.

Jakarta police spokesman Grand Commissioner Yusri Yunus told CNA: "We are still chasing the main perpetrator, the owner of the factory.”

During the raid last Friday, police found 600 boxes that contained about 30,000 illegal masks.

illegal surgical mask
The Jakarta police raided a surgical mask factory on Feb 28, 2020 that operated without a license in North Jakarta. (Photo: Jakarta Police Public Relations)

The illegal factory is believed to have operated since January this year, when the demand for surgical masks spiked amid fears of COVID-19.

The police spokesman said that the owner of the factory has a permit to operate a warehouse. He initially stored medical devices from China on the first and second floors of the building.

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The owner is said to have later started an illegal manufacturing facility on the third floor. He used material he had stored in his warehouse to produce the masks.

POLICE TRACKING DOWN THE BUYERS

Grand Commissioner Yunus said the police are also tracking down those who purchased the masks.

“We believe they were mainly sold to shops and hospitals. We are still investigating this based on the confession of the suspects – the workers we have detained,” he told CNA.

Police said the illegal masks were not produced according to Indonesian health standards, adding that they do not provide any protection against viruses.

A surgical mask which has been produced in line with health standards would have an anti-virus filter. Those made in the illegal factory did not have such a filter.

Surgical masks produced in line with health standards would contain an SNI (Standard National Indonesia) label, unlike those made illegally. 

Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, a box containing 50 surgical masks were sold at around 20,000 rupiah (US$1.41).

The factory, which produced the masks under the brand "Super Mask", was selling it at around 200,000 rupiah per box.

The spokesman revealed that the illegal factory produced thousands of boxes every day.

READ: COVID-19: Some Indonesian medical tourists put off travel to Singapore

On Monday, Indonesia announced its first two cases of COVID-19. Apart from surgical masks, hand sanitisers are now also in high demand.

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Source: CNA/ks(aw)

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