Denpasar, Indonesia -

An 84-year-old man could face death by firing squad for smuggling crystal methamphetamine worth more than $400 000 into the Indonesian resort island of Bali, an official said on Monday.

Arsain bin Anwar, an Indonesian national who lives in Malaysia, was arrested on Friday with 2.5kg of the drug in his luggage, airport customs chief I Made Wijaya said.

Under Indonesia's tough anti-drugs laws, he could face the death penalty if convicted of smuggling that quantity of drugs, he said.

However, Anwar has claimed he had no idea he was transporting drugs and was paid only 200 Malaysian ringgit (about $60) to carry a package, the official said.

“He said that someone he knew asked him to deliver the package and that he thought it was full of clothes,” Wijaya told AFP.

According to Wijaya, Anwar said he only accepted the money because his wife was ill and he needed to cover medical costs.

Anwar, who is originally from East Java province in western Indonesia, but had been working in Malaysia for 30 years as a car washer, arrived in Bali on a Malindo Air flight from Kuala Lumpur, said the official.

The drugs have a street value of five billion rupiah ($440 000), said Wijaya. He added that customs officials received intelligence that Anwar may be carrying drugs before his arrest.

“There was another man implicated in a suspected ring on the flight, but he slipped past customs. Police are searching for him,” he said.

Several foreign convicted traffickers are in jail in Bali, including British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford.

She was sentenced to death last year after being caught at the island's airport with $2.4 million worth of cocaine in her luggage. - Sapa-AFP