PAPUA New Guinean Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has warned citizens about being involved with illegal drugs after reports that 17 PNG citizens are being held in custody in Jayapura, Indonesia, on drug related charges.

Mr O’Neill said PNG was providing consular support to the people, arrested in mid-April, adding that the nation would continue to monitor the situation.

“In relation to recent arrests in Indonesia of Papua New Guineans on charges of drug possession, it would not be appropriate to comment as these matters are due to appear before the courts,” he said.

However, he added that the penalties for drug smuggling across South East Asia were severe.

“Improvements in law enforcement around the region means that there is a much greater chance now that drug smugglers will be caught,” he said.

“People who get involved in this illegal activity can expect to be arrested, convicted and given a serious sentence.”