Syndicates more willing to traffic drugs in larger quantities after Covid-19, says Singapore minister

Syndicates are eager to supply drugs to Singapore, said Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim. - PHOTO: CENTRAL NARCOTICS BUREAU via The Straits Times/ANN

SINGAPORE, Jan 28 (The Straits Times/ANN): The Covid-19 pandemic has changed drug trafficking patterns, with syndicates showing an increased willingness to deal in large quantities.

According to the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB), this included instances in 2022 where 18kg of heroin and 13kg of drugs were seized in May and September respectively.

Syndicates are eager to supply drugs to Singapore, said Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development, at an appreciation lunch for anti-drug abuse advocacy network volunteers and partners on Saturday.

“They are continuously innovating and thinking of how to circumvent the law, bringing ruin to lives and families for their own profit,” he added at the event held at HomeTeamNS Balestier.

Methamphetamine continues to be the most commonly abused drug in Singapore, with 60 per cent of all arrested drug users in 2021 abusing the substance, said Prof Faishal.

This is due to the abundance of methamphetamine in the region, which directly impacts the drug consumption situation here. The Golden Triangle – the area where the borders of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meet – has been a major global supply source.

Singapore, being a key transport and transshipment hub, acts as a transit point for many drug syndicates, added Prof Faishal.

In 2021, over one billion methamphetamine tablets were seized, part of the nearly 172 tonnes of the drug seized in the region in 2021.

Domestically, there remain cases of teenagers getting involved in drugs, both in consumption as well as sale and distribution.

In October 2022, five teenagers, aged 14 to 16, were arrested for the suspected trafficking of cannabis.

In November 2022, an operation conducted by CNB resulted in the arrest of 96 suspected drug offenders. Among them were a 14-year-old and a 17-year-old, who were found to have cannabis and drug utensils in their possession.

Earlier this month, CNB arrested a family of three among 88 other suspected drug offenders during an islandwide operation, where an assortment of drugs such as heroin and ketamine were seized. They had an estimated street value of over $56,000.

Separately, on Jan 10, two brothers were arrested for suspected drug activities conducted on the messaging application Telegram.

The A3 network, managed by the National Council Against Drug Abuse and the CNB, helps to gather advocates for the anti-drug cause.

Youth and adult volunteers organise initiatives like roadshows and media campaigns, share anti-drug abuse messages, and are trained on Singapore’s zero tolerance approach to drugs.

Globally, drug abuse has led to half a million deaths in 2021 alone. In 2020, 284 million people worldwide – 5.6 per cent of the global population – had consumed drugs in the past year, according to the 2022 World Drug Report. This corresponds to about 1 in every 18 individuals, and was a 26 per cent increase from 2010.

More countries have also begun adopting more liberal attitudes towards drugs, and policies towards drug use have also been relaxed.

The Republic remains committed in its anti-drug fight. Said Prof Faishal: “As we press on in this mission of keeping Singapore drug-free, it is my hope that more organisations and individuals will come alongside as partners and advocates, so that our children can grow up in an environment safe from the perils of drugs.” - The Straits Times/ANN

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