On Assignment

Lifting the Lid: On the Trail of Drug Abusers (Part 2)

We tagged along an enforcement operation by CNB officers against illegal drug transactions carried out over messaging apps.
Lifting the Lid Pt 2 01
Graphic: Joash Tan. Photos: Lynn Ng

Read Part 1 of the story here.

Back at the station, it was a hive of activity as officers were busy documenting the drugs and paraphernalia seized from the various residences. 

Lifting the Lid Pt 2 02
Officers sorting out the haul and taking down the personal details of suspects.

Just then, two more suspects were brought in and they were first directed to undergo a urine test.  

Lifting the Lid Pt 2 03
A suspect drawing the bottles for the urine test.

The suspects’ urine samples were then labelled and secured to prevent any tampering. Half of each sample would be sent to the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) for further detailed analysis. The other half would be tested on the spot to determine if controlled drugs were detected in the suspects’ urine samples.

Lifting the Lid Pt 2 04
An officer processing the urine samples.

In a small room, officers prepped the urine samples for onsite testing using a large machine. The results were out in 10 minutes.

Lifting the Lid Pt 2 05
Officers conducting a preliminary analysis of the urine samples collected. A more in-depth testing would be done by HSA.

At another part of the station, a CNB Investigation Officer (IO) was recording a statement from a suspect.

Lifting the Lid Pt 2 06
A suspect having his statement taken by an IO while another officer catalogued the items found in the suspect’s residence.

The seized items bagged by officers from the raided unit were transferred into tamper-proof evidence bags and carefully labelled to correspond to the evidence list.

Lifting the Lid Pt 2 07
Other than suspected drugs, drug paraphernalia like a weighing scale and rolling papers were also seized.

The drugs seized from the raid would also be sent to HSA for testing to analyse the exact composition of the drugs. 

Some of the drugs recovered include a small block of cannabis, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) stamps, "Ecstasy” pills, and methamphetamine. Officers told me that LSD stamps have varied designs, while “Ecstasy” pills can come in different shapes and colours.

Lifting the Lid Pt 2 08
Clockwise from top left: a small block of suspected cannabis, LSD stamps, methamphetamine (commonly known as “Ice”) and "Ecstasy" pills.

For someone who had never seen illegal drugs up close, it was an eye-opening experience. I left the station with renewed respect at the commitment of our CNB officers in keeping our streets safe from drugs.

The operation also highlighted that there is no safe haven for drug offenders who think they can evade CNB’s detection through the anonymity of messaging applications.

Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Bill and Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (Amendment) Bill 2023
The Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Bill 2023 and the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (Amendment) Bill 2023 were read for a second time and passed in Parliament on 21 March 2023. 

To further strengthen our harm reduction approach towards drugs, the Bills propose amendments to introduce a new legislative framework for psychoactive substances and increase punishment for the possession of large quantities of more dangerous and harmful controlled drugs. Read the Second Reading and Wrap-up speeches by Assoc Prof Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim.

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Written by

Joash Tan


21 March 2023

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