Girish Mahajan

Central Narcotics Bureau

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Abbreviation  CNB
National agency  Singapore
Central Narcotics Bureau
Legal personality  Governmental: Government agency
General nature  Law enforcement Civilian police
Elected officers responsible  Teo Chee Hean, Deputy Prime Minister & Coordinating Minister for National Security & Minister for Home Affairs S Iswaran, Minister, Prime Minister's Office & Second Minister for Home Affairs & Second Minister for Trade and Industry Masagos Zulkifli, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs & Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Agency executives  Ng Ser Song, Director Sim Wai Meng, Deputy Director

The Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB, Chinese: 肅毒局), established in 1971, is the primary drug enforcement agency in Singapore responsible for coordinating all matters pertaining to drug eradication.

Contents

Background

On 19 October 1971, the Government of Singapore announced that a new and dedicated Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB), would be set up within the Ministry of Home Affairs to fight the drug menace. Minister for Home Affairs (1970 – 1972) Wong Lin Ken said, "Such activities will be coordinated in the Central Narcotics Bureau. CNB also plans to build a capacity to educate the public in the dangers of drug abuse".

In 1973, Singapore's government introduced the Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA)15 to deal with drug traffickers, pushers and addicts. The enactment of the MDA was intended to firstly consolidate the provisions of the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance 1951 (DDO) and Drugs (Prevention of Misuse) Act 1969 (DPMA), and secondly to more effectively deal with the worsening drug situation. New legislation was perceived to be necessary by then Minister for Health and Home Affairs Chua Sian Chin in Parliament in 1973. "The Dangerous Drugs Act (i.e DDO) was enacted about 21 years ago and the controls provided therein are grossly inadequate for the 70's, with the introduction of a host of new drugs of medical value if properly used." The need was exacerbated by Singapore's geographical location and development into a trading hub. The proximity to the Golden Triangle is another oft-cited justification for tough anti-drug laws.

Present Day

In November 1993, the "Committee to Improve the Drug Situation in Singapore" was set up to look into the drug situation and it recommended a total and integrated approach to deal with the drug problem. The four main anti-drug strategies are Preventive Drug Education, Rigorous Enforcement, Treatment and Rehabilitation for addicts, and Aftercare and Continued Rehabilitation for ex-addicts to reintegrate them into society. CNB looks after rigorous enforcement and preventive drug education.

Preventive Drug Education

Drug trafficking is commonly known in the republic as a criminal offence punishable by hanging, which is enforced under Schedule 2 of the Misuse of Drugs Act, any person importing, exporting, or found in possession of more than the threshold quantities of illegal drugs receives a mandatory death sentence. The Government of Singapore is famous for educating the public by example of high profile cases such as the capital punishment of drug traffickers Van Tuong Nguyen and Shanmugam Murugesu.

CNB's Preventive Education Unit (PEU) was also formed in 1992 to focus solely on the formation and implementation of preventive drug education (PDE) programmes in Singapore. More recent events include the Anti-Drug Abuse Carnival 2015. Movie star Jackie Chan is also named in May 2015 as the first celebrity anti-drug ambassador of the island. As of December 2015, PEU is led by Jasmine Lim Hwa Choon.

Rigorous Enforcement

CNB conducts regular islandwide operations involving the concurrent mobilisation of resources and manpower across Singapore to conduct checks against drug abusers and ex-drug abusers who may have relapsed. Other than islandwide operations, CNB conducts operations targeted at specific areas where intelligence sources indicate that drug activity is taking place. Like police constables, CNB officers are issued and trained in the use of 5-shot Taurus Model 85 revolvers as a standard issue sidearm. Officers are also trained and issued with expandable batons for less than lethal self-defense options, bulletproof vests and handcuffs for restrains.

In a 2010 press release, CNB indicated that it has doubled the number of joint operations conducted at the checkpoints. These operations were carried out together with other Home Team partners such as the Singapore Police Force and the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA). There is also greater focus on intensifying inland operations by extending their duration in order to send a deterrent message to drug offenders.

More recent busting operations include:

  • 26 November 2015: Cannabis weighing 2 kg and worth around S$66,000 was seized.
  • 17 November 2015: Five suspects including a suspected drug syndicate leader were arrested and drugs worth more than S$158,000 inclusive of 1.56 kg of heroin and 1.12 kg of cannabis were seized.
  • 4 November 2015: Former Singapore Democratic Party chairman Jeffrey George arrested for drug-related offences and investigations are ongoing.
  • 30 October 2015: 704g of heroin, 445g of cannabis, 59g of "Ice" and 183 "Ecstasy" tablets, knives, parangs and a replica gun as well as cash amounting to S$6,024 were seized at a suspected drug store in a private apartment at Orange Grove Road. Multiple bags of heroin and "Ice" also seized the same day at Boon Lay Drive and Jalan Bukit Merah.
  • 28 October 2015: A packet of ‘Ice’ of about 130g, and another packet containing a total of 95 Lysergide (LSD) stamps and some drug paraphernalia at Eng Hoon Street while cannabis weighing about 1 kg seized in Woodlands, 3 arrested.
  • 26 October 2015: 87 suspected drug offenders arrested over 6 days at West Coast, Boon Lay, Bukit Batok, Jurong West, Ghim Moh Road, Marsiling, Lower Delta Road, Canberra Road, Balestier, Bishan and Toa Payoh. CNB recovered 321.44g of heroin, 77.31g of ‘Ice’, 5.1g of cannabis, 10 ‘Ecstasy’ tablets, 60 Erimin-5 tablets and 5.25g of ketamine.
  • 23 October 2015: S$109,000 worth of drugs including 3.2 kg of cannabis, 20g of ‘Ice’ and 98 Erimin-5 tablets seized at Clementi, four arrested.
  • 11 October 2015: Joint operation involving Central Narcotics Bureau, Singapore Customs, Immigration & Checkpoints Authority and Health Sciences Authority arrested 107 at Geylang. Offences they were suspected to be involved in include drug offences, peddling of contraband cigarettes, immigration offences and selling of illegal sexual enhancement products.
  • Special Task Force

    CNB maintains a small, specialized and covert unit namely the Special Task Force (STF) which carry out high risk operations (such as vehicle pursuits and conducting house raids), forced entry and performing round-the-clock surveillance of syndicate activities since 1997. Officers must have at least two years of experience in CNB to sign up. Members have the access to battering rams and electric cutters for forced entry and the Heckler & Koch USP semi-auto pistol as their firearm.

    Controversies

    CNB announced that an error was found in the statistical computation of drug abuser arrest statistics for the period 2008 to 2010 after migrating to a new IT system. The amended and updated data reflects higher numbers of drug abusers for that period. CNB stressed that the mistake in the computation did not affect its enforcement efforts.

    In 2012, the then chief of the CNB was suspended accruing from internal investigations involving corrupt practice.

    References

    Central Narcotics Bureau Wikipedia


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