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#OneHomeTeam: Working Together to Stop Drugs at Our Borders (Part 1)

As our borders reopen, find out how our civilian and uniformed officers are prepared to foil crimes such as drug-smuggling by syndicates into Singapore.
Working Together To Bust A Drug Syndicate (Part 1) 01
GRAPHIC: Dayana Yakob

As our borders reopen, drug syndicates continue to look for novel ways to smuggle their deadly wares into Singapore. But through close collaboration, intensive fieldwork and swift enforcement on the ground, Home Team officers are prepared to intercept drugs before they can reach our neighbourhoods and homes.

It often begins with getting a lead. 

Through ground operations and intelligence-gathering, officers from the various Home Team Departments share leads to prevent criminal plans from coming to fruition. When the Singapore Police Force (SPF) gets wind of plans by a syndicate to smuggle drugs into Singapore, officers spring into action.

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PHOTO: Joash Tan

Helping to glean intelligence insights from raw data are civilian officers such as Cheryl Chng, a Crime Pattern Analyst with SPF’s Police Intelligence Department. Cheryl joined the Home Team in 2020 after graduating from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) where she studied Mathematical Sciences. 

“I wanted to work in an analytical role that is related to statistics,” she recalled. “I came across my current position, took a leap of faith and have never regretted it!”

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PHOTO: Joash Tan
As an Analyst, Cheryl analyses data to spot crime patterns and trends, which helps the Home Team to stay ahead of the curve in terms of fighting crime. “I didn’t know what to expect when I came in,” she said. “But after understanding more about SPF’s work, I’m motivated even more to make a contribution.”

Intelligence findings indicate that the syndicate will be making its move through Woodlands Checkpoint. This information is quickly passed on by SPF to their counterparts at the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB), who also work closely with their international counterparts to verify the sources to thwart transnational drug trafficking activities.

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Assigned to cases like this is Assistant Superintendent (ASP) Wong Jun Jie, an Investigation Officer with CNB, in charge of investigating drug offences, including drug trafficking and drug consumption. ASP Wong joined CNB in 2019 on an MHA Uniformed Scholarship.

“I decided to pursue the Scholarship as I wanted a career in law enforcement,” explained ASP Wong. “Since joining CNB, I have developed a greater appreciation of how meaningful it is to keep Singapore safe from drugs. Be it helping drug abusers undergo rehabilitation or prosecuting drug traffickers, I’m committed to fighting the drug scourge and preventing families from the pain and despair that drug abuse brings.”

ASP Wong touches base and works with his fellow officers at the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) to profile incoming travellers who are either suspected of drug-related activities or acting suspiciously for thorough searches on their arrival at Woodlands Checkpoint.

At Woodlands Checkpoint, Inspector (INSP) Aloysius Thum and his team keep a vigilant eye on the vehicles passing through. With a passion to safeguard Singapore and keenness to embark on a dynamic and challenging career with the Home Team, INSP Thum took up the MHA Uniformed Scholarship with ICA in 2017.

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“Some people still have the misconception that ICA officers only conduct immigration clearance, but we do so much more,” said INSP Thum. “From conducting investigations into suspicious travellers, to ensuring the smooth running of our checkpoints, we’re always ready to respond to any incidents and contingencies.”

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PHOTO: Joash Tan

As INSP Thum monitors the incoming traffic from the Arrival Car Zone’s Duty Office at Woodlands Checkpoint, a vehicle believed to be driven by a member of the syndicate pulls up. 

“I immediately instructed my colleagues to observe the driver of the vehicle and look out for suspicious behaviour,” shared INSP Thum. 

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PHOTO: Joash Tan
At the Arrival Car Zone’s clearance lane, ICA officers carry out their routine checks on the vehicle. 

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PHOTO: Dayana Yakob

Seeing the driver, “Ben”, behaving nervously, officers decide to conduct further checks on the vehicle by directing it to the secondary inspection pit.

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PHOTO: Dayana Yakob

INSP Thum swabs “Ben’s” hands for traces of narcotics while his teammates continue their search on the vehicle. No stone is left unturned in their checks.

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PHOTO: Dayana Yakob

True enough, the officers find a bag containing drugs hidden inside the car boot.

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PHOTO: Dayana Yakob

Officers discover trace amounts of drugs on “Ben”, and they quickly refer the case to CNB officers deployed at Woodlands Checkpoint for further investigations. Upon receiving the call, ASP Wong and his team head down to the inspection pit immediately.

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PHOTO: Joash Tan

INSP Thum briefs ASP Wong and his fellow CNB officers about ICA’s findings before handing “Ben” and the cache of drugs over to them. 

From keen intelligence insights and close coordination on the ground to swift enforcement, this is just one example of how officers play their part as #OneHomeTeam to keep Singapore safe from drugs. 

For INSP Thum, this vital work is its own reward. “I find immense satisfaction in what we do,” he says. “Even as the volume of traffic increases with the reopening of our land borders, I’m confident that we’re prepared for the challenge of protecting our borders.”

Curious to know what happens in the next phase of investigations? Look out for Part 2 of this photo feature!


Other stories in Guardians of Our Home series:
- Psychology Career Track: A Day in the Life of a Home Team Psychologist
- Intelligence Career Track: Using Data Analytics to Fight CrimeLeading with a Cause
- Internal Security Career Track: Six Qualities of an ISD Officer
Commercial Affairs Career Track: On an Enforcement Operation with a Commercial Affairs Officer
Civilian Generalist Career Track: Growing Beyond to Take on New Roles
- Science and Technology Career Track: Exploring Leading-edge Vehicle Platforms

MHA Civilian & Uniformed Scholarships
The MHA Uniformed and Civilian Scholarships are awarded to outstanding individuals who are passionate about strengthening Singapore’s security and public safety. The MHA Civilian Scholarship offers six career tracks: a Generalist track and five Specialist tracks: IntelligencePsychologyCommercial AffairsScience and Technology; and Internal Security. The MHA Uniformed Scholarship offers five career tracks: Singapore Police Force; Singapore Civil Defence Force; Immigration and Checkpoints Authority; Singapore Prison Service; and Central Narcotics Bureau.

Read also:
Technology that Keeps Us Safe, with a Human Touch
- It’s About Walking the Walk

Written by

Elaine Lee


12 May 2022

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