KUALA LUMPUR: Drug syndicates are coming up with new tricks, but the police are ready to hit back hard.
Bukit Aman has formed a Special Tactics and Intelligence Narcotics Group or STING to bust drug rings in the country.
The elite force is to uncover kingpins, stop drug shipments through all entry and exit points and seize precursor substances (ingredients used for manufacturing illicit drugs).
Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi launched the group that consists of 61 senior officers, 138 rank-and-file personnel and one civilian staff yesterday.
He said at the police training centre here that the squad would go after the “sharks” of the drug trade rather than the small-time players.
As for its manner of operation, he said: “The squad will be able to act independently nationwide without going through state police contingents.”
At a media briefing, Narcotics Crime Investigation Department director Comm Datuk Noor Rashid Ibrahim said STING personnel would be trained in gathering and analysing intelligence, and using the information to conduct operations on land and at sea.
“They will also be taught how to recognise precursor substances in their separate forms for any sign of clandestine drug operations,” he said.
“There are also plans for specialised training by experts from Australia, South Korea and Thailand.”
The STING personnel are in addition to the existing narcotics team of about 4,000.
Comm Noor Rashid will be commander of STING with former Terengganu and Perak narcotics chief Senior Asst Comm Roslan Abd Wahid as his deputy.
He said the changing trends in the drug trade called for better investigative and evidence gathering skills, and a request had been submitted for RM9mil worth of new surveillance equipment.
Comm Noor Rashid said that big drug labs had been replaced by “kitchens” operating secretly in private residences, with stores located separately to avoid detection.
“We are facing a strong, very determined enemy who will do whatever it takes to survive,” he said.
“They have resources, are technologically advanced and have good networks, and we need a strong force to oppose them.”
Comm Noor Rashid acknowledged that it was impossible to eradicate drugs syndicates completely, but pledged to cut their activities down to a minimum. “We expect to produce results in the first 100 days.”
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