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Indonesia's Narcotics Chief Wants Tigers and Piranhas in Addition to Crocodiles as Prison Guards


Picture a foreboding island fortress, surrounded by a moat of crocodiles and piranhas, with tigers prowling the exterior.

It may sound like the lair of a fictional Bond villain, but one Indonesian government official hopes to make it a reality - not to keep intruders out, but to keep criminals inside.

When Budi Waseso, chief of the National Narcotics Agency (BNN) in Indonesia, first proposed a prison for death row inmates surrounded by crocodiles on Nov. 9, officials scrambled to downplay the story. But last Friday, Waseso doubled down, saying his ideal prison would also include tigers and piranhas, and he's already begun to put his plan into motion.

News website Tempo originally quoted Waseso as saying he'd purchased two crocodiles for a farm and would evaluate the most aggressive species with the hope of stationing as many as 1,000 around the prison. Crocodiles surpass human guards in many ways, Waseso argues, including their resistance to disease and hunger and their long lifespans, but mostly due to their incorruptible nature.

"You can't bribe crocodiles. You can't convince them to let inmates escape."

"The number [of crocodiles] will depend on how big the area is, or whether perhaps to combine them with piranhas," Waseso later added, according to

"Because the (prison) personnel numbers are short we can use wild animals. We could use tigers too - for conservation at the same time."

Tiger takes down gaur in front of people.
Flickr/Keith Roper

The proposal for an animal-guarded prison comes in the midst of an escalating war against drug traffickers in Indonesia. President Joko Widodo, who took office last year, secured the election with the promise of addressing the nation's "narcotics emergency," which he claims takes 40 lives a day. His policies have led to harsh sentences for drug traffickers, including executing more than two dozen convicts.

Despite the country's harsh laws, Indonesia still struggles to contain the flow of illegal narcotics. Jails housing drug convicts are overcrowded and usually have easy access to narcotics themselves, and prison officials are frequently arrested on charges of corruption.

Waseso has rejected criticism that his plan is impractical and inhumane. His island prison would address all the country's narcotics problems, he claims, and the drug dealers who'd land there would only have it coming.

"We have to look at the whole problem," Waseso said in a recent inverview with TVOne Channel. "These people are murderers - mass murderers. Shouldn't we also look at the human rights of their victims?"

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Indonesia's Narcotics Chief Wants Tigers and Piranhas in Addition to Crocodiles as Prison Guards