Published: 05 July 2021
Mr Christopher de Souza: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs what measures are put in place to prevent the drug fentanyl from entering Singapore given its lethal nature and increasing prevalence in South-East Asia.
1. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is used as a painkiller, but it is also liable to abuse. Fentanyl is estimated to be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.
2. Globally, fentanyl abuse has contributed to an increasing number of opioid overdose deaths, particularly in North America. These overdose deaths are partly attributed to the activities of organised crime groups, which misrepresent fentanyl as heroin or adulterate other illicit drugs with fentanyl. These substances are then trafficked to unsuspecting users.
3. Regionally, Asia has been frequently reported as a source of fentanyl found in other parts of the world. There are also indications that synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and its analogues are becoming increasingly available in the ASEAN region.
4. Fentanyl is currently listed as a Class A controlled drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA). The trafficking, importation, manufacture and possession of fentanyl attract harsh penalties under the MDA.
5. There are so far no indications that fentanyl abuse has taken root locally. Nonetheless, we remain vigilant against its trafficking.
6. On 1 March 2021, Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officers from Changi Airfreight Centre, Air Cargo Command detected a parcel containing 200 vials, which are believed to contain fentanyl, along with other illicit medicines. This is the first known attempt to traffic fentanyl in its pure form into Singapore. The detection prompted a follow-up operation by the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) which led to the arrest of three individuals, including the intended recipient of the parcel.
7. MHA will continue to monitor developments both globally and domestically concerning fentanyl and will regularly review our measures to ensure that they are adequate in deterring illicit activities involving fentanyl.