Published: 02 March 2017
Mr Dennis Tan Lip Fong: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) if he will provide a breakdown of those arrested for online drug peddling by gender, ethnicity and family income since 2014; and (b) whether the Ministry has identified the factors that have led to a spike in the number of online drug peddling cases between 2014 and 2015.
1. Law enforcement agencies worldwide face the growing challenge of online drugs sale. The anonymity provided by the Internet makes it more difficult to detect and apprehend the offenders. We also face this challenge in Singapore.
2. In 2016, the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) arrested 201 persons for buying drugs and drug-related paraphernalia online. This was a significant increase from the 30 persons arrested in 2015 and the 6 arrested in 2014.
3. For the profile of the offenders, it is more meaningful to look at the 2016 data because the numbers in 2014 and 2015 were small. The majority of those arrested in 2016 for online drug trading were male and between the ages of 20 to 39 years old. Chinese and Malays made up about 50% and 30% respectively of the persons arrested. We do not have data on their individual or family income.
4. The increase in the online drug trade is a direct result of the increasing use of the Internet. More people have taken to the Internet for shopping and other transactions. It not surprising that drug buyers and suppliers are also moving online.
5. Moreover the Internet offers the cloak of anonymity and therefore a perceived sense of safety. The Internet allows buyers to purchase their drugs without physically meeting with the suppliers. The buyers and suppliers may think that in this way they can better evade detection by law enforcement agencies.
6. CNB works closely with partners such as the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) and courier companies to detect and take action against the online drug trade. As part of CNB's public education efforts, the agency works with the media to publish trends and dangers of people ordering drugs and drug paraphernalia online. CNB also conducts outreach online to engage persons who may be vulnerable to the online drug trade. CNB will continue to monitor the developments closely and keep up its enforcement and public education efforts.