More drugs seized in 2010
More heroin, cannabis, nimetazepam, 'Ice' and ketamine were seized in 2010 compared to 2009. In particular, seizures of heroin and 'Ice' increased by 68% and 50% respectively. Significantly less 'Yaba' and 'Subutex' were seized in 2010 compared to 2009, with seizures of both declining by about 70%. An estimated S$10.4 million worth of drugs were seized in 2010, an increase in value of about 55% compared to 2009.
The increase in drug seizures can be attributed to the persistent threat posed by the increase in regional supply of drugs, as well as the sustained intensive enforcement action carried out by CNB throughout the year. Last year, we jointly executed 890 joint operations at the borders with SPF and ICA, which was more than double compared to the 436 joint operations in 2009.
Drug Abusers Arrested
More drug abusers were arrested in 2010 compared to 2009. A total of 2,887 abusers were arrested in 2010, 271 abusers or 10% more than the 2,616 abusers arrested in 2009. There were more arrests of both repeat and new abusers. The proportions of new and repeat abusers remained similar to that in 2009, at 46% and 54% respectively.
Since 2007, the number of drug abusers arrested has increased. The trend over the decade has been increasing on the whole. CNB will continue to remain vigilant against any emerging threat to the drug abuse situation, and is ready to take proactive measures when necessary. The pre-emptive listing of mephedrone, BZP and TFMPP as controlled drugs in Nov 2010 is one such measure.
Drug Abusers by Ethnic Group
The ethnic profile of drug abusers remained similar to previous years. In 2010, Malays formed 48% (1376 out of 2887) of drug abusers arrested. This is followed by Chinese, who comprised 1050 or 36% of drug abusers arrested. Indians comprised 14% and other races comprised 2% of abusers arrested in 2010.
From 2009 to 2010, arrests of Chinese and Indian abusers increased by 14 (1%) and 29 (8%) respectively. While the number of Malay drug abusers arrested has fallen by 13% compared to ten years ago in 2000, from 2009 to 2010 the total number of Malay abusers arrested increased by 218 persons (a 19% increase from 2009), and new Malay abusers arrested increased by 92 persons (a 19% increase from 2009).
Drug Abusers by Age Group
The age profile of drug abusers arrested in 2010 remained similar to that of 2009. Drug abusers aged 40 and above remain the largest group at 45%, followed by those in the 30 to 39 age group at 26%. Young abusers below 20 continue to comprise the smallest proportion of abusers arrested, at about 6% of the whole group.
Overall, the age profile of new abusers arrested in 2010 also remained similar to that in 2009. Most new abusers were in the 20 to 29 age group (39%), while other age groups comprised 12% to 26% of all new abusers arrested.
Collectively, heroin and methamphetamine accounted for 86% of drug abuser arrests in 2010.
While there was an across-the-board decline in arrests for most other types of drugs abused, there were more heroin and methamphetamine abusers arrested in 2010 compared to 2009. There were 362 or 25% more heroin abuser arrests, and 160 or 30% more methamphetamine abuser arrests.
Similarly among new drug abusers, heroin and methamphetamine were the two main drugs of abuse, with methamphetamine accounting for a larger proportion, comprising 40% of all new drug abuser arrests in 2010.
The rise in methamphetamine and heroin abusers arrested can be attributed to the ready supply of the two drugs in the region, which has shown signs of increasing. The persistent challenge faced in the fight against drugs is demonstrated in particular by heroin abusers – of whom recalcitrant offenders comprise the large majority. Of the 1,787 heroin abusers arrested in 2010, 1,264 or 71% were repeat abusers.
ANTI-DRUG STRATEGIES & INITIATIVES
Conducting regular and vigorous enforcement against drug offenders is the foundation of CNB's mission to prevent the drug problem from spreading amongst the general population.
Since 1994, CNB has been conducting regular islandwide operations involving the concurrent mobilisation of our resources and manpower across Singapore to conduct checks against drug abusers and ex-drug abusers who may have relapsed. In the 16 islandwide operations conducted in 2010, CNB arrested a total of 1,055 suspected drug abusers. This was similar to 2009 where 17 such operations were conducted and 1,022 suspected drug abusers were arrested.
Other than islandwide operations, CNB conducts operations targeted at specific areas where intelligence sources indicate that drug activity is taking place. In 2010, 66 such operations were conducted at hotels in the central part of Singapore and 87 drug suspects were arrested.
Collaboration with local agencies
Locally, CNB works closely with other Home Team agencies, in particular ICA and SPF.
Together with these partners, CNB conducted 890 joint operations in 2010 at Singapore's various border checkpoints such as Woodlands, Tuas Checkpoints and Changi Airport so as to impede the illicit flow of drugs into Singapore. This was a 104% increase over the 436 joint operations conducted in 2009.
471 of the operations conducted in 2010 were conducted at the Woodlands Checkpoint, a 78% increase over the 265 joint operations conducted there in 2009.
Drug Concealment Methods
CNB and its Home Team partners need to continually improve search technique capabilities as offenders continue to find innovative methods of concealing drugs.
Active Cooperation with Regional Partners
Drug supply is a problem faced by all countries in the region, and CNB works together with our regional counterparts, fighting together against drugs as partners. In 2010, CNB continued to build relationships with foreign partners, exchanged intelligence, as well as executed four successful joint operations with foreign law enforcement agencies.
Malaysia's Narcotics Crime Investigation Department (NCID) and Thailand's Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) are our closest working partners.
In one of our joint operations with NCID which took over a year to complete, NCID arrested two Singaporean brothers operating a drug syndicate in Johor Bahru in Jan 2010. The syndicate was supplying drugs to Singapore using a network of drug couriers and local runners. Another similar cross-border partnership also resulted in NCID's seizure of 113 kg of methamphetamine on 2 Aug 2010, estimated to be worth RM24.86 million (approximately S$10.69 million).
CNB also facilitates the regular sharing of expertise to help strengthen drug control and management capabilities in the region. Together with the Australian Federal Police, CNB conducted the 10th Integrated Narcotics Enforcement Programme (INEP) in Mar 2010 to share experiences in combating the drug problem with our ASEAN partners. CNB's Precursor Control Unit (PCU) also engages, on a regular basis, with key players in the pharmaceutical industry, as well as foreign counterparts such as the US Drug Enforcement Administration and Korean Food & Drug Administration to share information and best practices.
Preventive Drug Education & Engaging the Community
CNB believes that harm prevention is better than cure, especially when drug abuse often leads to negative consequences not just for the abusers, but also their families. We have taken the lead in preventive drug education (PDE) since 1994, working closely with external agencies such as ethnic group-based community groups and other Ministries to widen our reach.
Preventive Drug Education & Engaging the Community
Youths are our primary target audience in our PDE efforts because we believe in empowering the public to say ‘no' to drugs early in life.
Moving with the times, CNB engages in dialogue and befriends youths through social media platforms such as Facebook, which also enables youths to spread the anti-drug message to an even wider group of friends.
We also interact with youths through school-based activities such as assembly talks, art and essay competitions. To reinforce the anti-drug message, teachers have also been equipped with a new PDE Resource Package for Teachers which contains anti-drug materials such as videos, suggested classroom activities and tips on how to refuse drugs.
Mindful that at-risk youths and out-of-school youths may require other methods of outreach, CNB works with MCYS and community groups such as MENDAKI, Association of Muslim Professionals (AMP) and the Chinese Development Assistance Council (CDAC) to reach out to these youths. We will embark on a PDE programme specially developed for at-risk and out-of-school youths in 2011.
To engage youths at a deeper level in 2011, CNB will be collaborating with students from the Singapore Polytechnic to conceptualise and organise the Anti-Drug Abuse Campaign (ADAC), as well as Sportzamania, an anti-drug abuse sports carnival. CNB is also exploring with the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) on the development of online applications for our Facebook pages.
Driving Home the Anti-Drug Message in a Flash!
Flash Games Competition: Games Against Drug Abuse
Recognising the wide appeal of digital media and gaming among the youths of today, CNB and the National Council Against Drug Abuse (NCADA) jointly organised the inaugural Flash Games Competition: Games Against Drug Abuse as part of our ongoing efforts at PDE. The competition is organised in collaboration with the Media Development Authority (MDA) and DigiPen Institute of Technology – Singapore, and will run from Oct 2010 to Apr 2011. It invites all full-time local ITE, polytechnic and university students in Singapore to showcase their digital media talent by helping to create an anti-drug flash-based game targeted at youths aged 25 years and below.
Leveraging on the involvement of youths in developing the games and thereby helping to spread the anti-drug message among their peers is the perfect way to inculcate the anti-drug message into impressionable young minds. With their active involvement, the message becomes internalised and reinforced, and spreads to their peers in a non-invasive and engaging manner. Besides spreading the anti-drug message, youths get a chance to exercise their creative talents. Apart from attractive prizes, the competition features personal coaching and mentorship for competition finalists by professionals from DigiPen.
Engaging the community – Strength in Unity
To reach out more effectively to the various ethnic groups, CNB actively works with the various community groups to jointly address the problem of drug abuse.
In 2010, CNB collaborated on and supported about 30 projects and events with various community groups, including the Singapore Anti Narcotics Association (SANA), MENDAKI, CDAC and Singapore Indian Development Association (SINDA). These projects reached out to more than 20,000 at-risk youths, students and members of public.
From Mar 2010 to Sep 2010, CNB also collaborated with AMP on a series of 5 anti-drug workshops for over 200 Malay at-risk youths. These workshops utilised team-building exercises, creative quizzes as well as Malay poetry, or pantun, to more effectively reach out to these youths.
CNB also participated in MENDAKI's Family Excellence Circles Family Day on 6 Jun 2010 by putting up an anti-drug exhibition and sponsoring anti-drug souvenirs for the event.
CNB also works with CDAC and SINDA through various projects, conducting anti-drug exhibitions, and sponsoring publications and souvenirs. In 2010, CNB supported events such as the launch of SINDA's Youth Club on 28 Aug 2010 and the CDAC "Ready for School" project in Dec 2010 which reached out to 4,200 needy families.
CNB Collaboration with Community Groups
In Dec 2010, CNB supported a holiday camp organised by Persatuan Pemudi Islam Singapura (PPIS) for Malay youths. CNB helped conduct an anti-drug workshop and sponsored anti-drug publications and souvenirs to spread the anti-drug message among the participants.
In Nov 2010, CNB participated in the CDAC Woodlands Open House event by conducting an anti-drug talk and exhibition to spread the anti-drug message among Chinese youths.
Reaching out to Ex-Abusers
In addition to our youth outreach efforts, CNB has also taken steps to reach out to an older group of ex-drug abusers, such as by distributing anti-drug materials to ex-abusers and their families. Together with the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) and the Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises (SCORE), CNB is developing improved and customised materials to better complement overall rehabilitation efforts.
One such project would be the production of customised videos targeted at ex-abusers and drug supervisees, featuring interviews with a doctor and reformed drug abusers. The videos are aimed to inspire or motivate viewers to remain drug-free, and at the same time, drive home a deterrent message on the consequences of drug abuse.
INHALANT ABUSE SITUATION 2010
Continued Improvement in Inhalant Abuse Situation
The inhalant abuse situation in Singapore has shown continued improvement since 2008.
The total number of inhalant abusers arrested fell from 600 in 2009 to 499 in 2010. This was a decrease of about 17%. The number of new inhalant abusers fell from 398 in 2009 to 339 in 2010, registering about a 15% decrease. The number of repeat abusers arrested registered an even greater decrease of about 21% with a total of 160 arrests in 2010 compared to 202 arrests in 2009.
2010 saw a drop in the number of inhalant abusers arrested across all age groups. In 2010, youths under the age of 20 comprised approximately 69% of all inhalant abusers arrested. From 2009 to 2010, arrests of inhalant abusers in this age group fell by about 19%.
There was a drop in inhalant abuser arrests among the Indian and Malay ethnic groups – declines of about 23% and 34% respectively. There was a slight decrease of 5 persons in the number of Chinese inhalant abusers arrested.
Arresting the Rise of Inhalant Abuse
In order to arrest the progression of inhalant abuse, CNB has adopted several measures both internally and in collaboration with other agencies in both the government and private sectors.
In 2010, CNB adopted a cluster approach towards issuing letters of advice and letters of notice to shopkeepers who sell inhalant products. That is, when CNB receives information that inhalant abusers are purchasing from a particular shop, both that shop as well as other shops in the vicinity selling similar inhalant products will be alerted to exercise more caution in selling these products. This prevents inhalant abusers from having an easy access to inhalant products. CNB also provides posters and other anti-inhalant materials to these shops to serve as public education and reminders.
CNB also engaged a major contact cement producer to include a warning label on the dangers of inhalant abuse on their product packaging. CNB will explore the possibilities of engaging other producers of inhalant products to include similar warning labels.
Recognising the dangers of peer pressure, CNB has worked together with schools to identify friends of known inhalant abusers to conduct focused school talks and to warn them of the dangers and consequences of inhalant abuse. Since Aug 2007, 59 such talks have been delivered to 978 students in 73 schools. During the same period, targeting the general student population, CNB also delivered 421 anti-drug and inhalant abuse school assembly talks.
The Dangers of Inhalant Abuse if Left Unchecked
Youths under the age of 20 comprise 69% of inhalant abusers arrested in 2010. Many youths may be under the impression that compared to controlled drugs, inhalants cause less harm to the body. This misconception coupled with the fact that most inhalants are considerably inexpensive and easily available, may lead to youths finding easy escape routes from their problems through inhalant abuse.
In order to tackle this problem, CNB continuously works with various agencies and organisations under the purview of MOE and MCYS. Early detection is the key to prevention of inhalant abuse.
Everyone has a role to play in this prevention effort including parents, caregivers, teachers and friends. Anyone who suspects that a loved one is engaging in inhalant abuse or has information pertaining to the indiscriminate selling or distribution of inhalants is advised to alert CNB by calling our hotline at 1800-3256666.
CENTRAL NARCOTICS BUREAU
24 JAN 2011
(UPDATED JAN 2012)