Cablegate: 2006-2007 International Narcotics Control Strategy

Published: Thu 26 Oct 2006 09:01 AM
DE RUEHGP #3429/01 2990901
R 260901Z OCT 06
E.O. 12958: N/A
REF: STATE 155088
1. Per reftel instructions, Post submits its draft 2006-2007
International narcotics Control Strategy Report, Part I Q Drug
and Chemical Control. Part II will be submitted septel.
I. Summary
2. The Government of Singapore (GOS) enforces stringent counter
narcotics policies through strict laws (including the death
penalty), vigorous law enforcement, and active prevention
programs. Singapore is not a producer of precursor chemicals or
narcotics, but as a major regional financial and transportation
center, it is an attractive target for money launderers and drug
transshipment. Corruption cases involving SingaporeQs counter
narcotics and law enforcement agencies are rare, and their
officers regularly attend U.S.-sponsored training programs as
well as regional forums on drug control.
3. Narcotics trafficking and abuse are decreasing in Singapore.
According to GOS statistics, the number of drug abusers arrested
decreased by 17 percent to 793 in 2005, down from 955 in 2004.
That was the lowest number recorded in 20 years. The number of
new abusers arrested also decreased, by 25 percent to 453 in
2005. One notable exception, however, is the increase in
synthetic drug abuse (to include methamphetamine, MDMA
(Ecstasy), Erimin-5 and Nimetazepam). In 2005, 79 percent of
the total offenders arrested were involved with synthetic drugs,
as compared with 56 percent in 2004. Singapore is a party to
the 1988 UN Drug Convention.
II. Status of Country
4. In 2006, there was no known production of illicit narcotics
or precursor chemicals in Singapore. While Singapore itself is
not a known transit point for drugs or precursor chemicals, it
is the busiest transshipment port in the world. The sheer
volume of cargo passing through makes it likely that some
illicit shipments of drugs and chemicals pass through
undetected. With few exceptions, Singapore does not screen
containerized shipments unless they enter its customs territory.
III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2005
5. Policy Initiatives. Singapore has continued to pursue a
strategy of demand and supply reduction for drugs. Singapore
has worked closely with numerous international groups dedicated
to drug education, including the Partnership for a Drug-Free
America. In addition to arresting drug traffickers, Singapore
focuses on arresting and detaining drug abusers for treatment
and rehabilitation, providing drug detoxification and
rehabilitation, and offering vigorous drug education in its
schools. Singaporeans and permanent residents are subject to
random drug tests. The Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA) gives the
Singapore Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) the authority to commit
all drug abusers to rehabilitation centers for mandatory
treatment and rehabilitation. Since 1999, individuals testing
positive for consumption of narcotics have been held accountable
for narcotics consumed abroad as well as in Singapore.
6. In an effort to curb rising synthetic drug abuse, Singapore
enacted stricter penalties in 2005 for first-time and repeat
synthetic drug offenders, including up to 10 years imprisonment
and caning. The penalties for trafficking in synthetic drugs
are less severe than for trafficking of cocaine, heroin, and
marijuana, for which offenders can be subject to the death
7. On August 14, 2006, the GOS classified Buprenorphine, the
active ingredient in Subutex, as a Class A Controlled Drug under
the First Schedule of the Misuse of Drugs Act. This means that,
unless dispensed by a licensed physician or practitioner, the
importation, distribution, possession and consumption of Subutex
is a felony offense. Subutex is a heroin substitute clinically
used in the detoxification/rehabilitation of heroin addicts.
8. Law Enforcement Efforts. Singapore narcotics officials
consider declines in arrests and seizures as signs of successful
law enforcement efforts. As noted above, arrests for drug-
related offenses declined 17 percent from 955 in 2004 to 793 in
2005. These statistics include persons arrested for trafficking
offenses, possession, and consumption. Despite the overall
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downward trend, arrests for methamphetamine offenses increased
14 percent. Seventy-nine percent of drug arrests in 2005
involved synthetic drugs, including Nimetazepam (26 percent of
total arrests); Ketamine (24 percent); Methamphetamine (18
percent); and MDMA or Ecstasy (11 percent). This is the first
time that arrests for Nimetazepam exceeded those for Ketamine.
Non-synthetic drug-related arrests included marijuana (13
percent); heroin (8 percent); and cocaine (0.4 percent).
9. In 2005, authorities executed 48 major operations, during
which they dismantled 27 drug syndicates. A majority of these
arrests were conducted during sweeps of synthetic drug
distribution groups, which were infiltrated by undercover
Singapore narcotics officers. Singapore narcotics officers
frequently perform undercover work, purchasing small, personal-
use amounts of narcotics from distributors. These sweeps often
produce additional arrests when subjects present at arrest
scenes test positive for the presence of narcotics in their
10. Corruption. The CNB is charged with the enforcement of
SingaporeQs counter narcotics laws. The CNB and other elements
of the government are well-trained professional investigators.
Singapore is widely recognized as one of the least corrupt
countries in the world. Neither the government nor any senior
government officials engage in, encourage or facilitate the
production or distribution of narcotics or other controlled
substances, or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug
11. Agreements and Treaties. Singapore is a party to the 1988
UN Drug Convention, the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic
Drugs, the 1972 Protocol amending the Single Convention, and the
1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances. Singapore and
the United States continue to cooperate in extradition matters
under the 1931 Multilateral Convention on Extradition.
Singapore and the United States signed a Drug Designation
Agreement (DDA) in November 2000, strengthening existing
cooperation between the countries on drug cases, including in
asset forfeiture and sharing of proceeds. In the past, the lack
of such a bilateral agreement had been an occasional handicap.
The DDA has also facilitated the exchange of banking and
corporate information on drug money laundering suspects and
targets. This includes access to bank records, testimony of
witnesses, and service of process. The DDA is the first such
agreement Singapore has undertaken with another government.
Singapore has signed mutual legal assistance agreements with
Hong Kong and ASEAN. The United States and Singapore have held
discussions on a possible bilateral MLAT, most recently in
December 2005, although there have been no formal negotiations
since 2004. Singapore signed the UN Convention against
Transnational Organized Crime in December 2000.
12. Cultivation/Production. There was no known cultivation or
production of narcotics in Singapore in 2004 or 2005.
13. Drug Flow/Transit. Singapore is one of the busiest
seaports in the world. Approximately 80 percent of the goods
flowing through its port are in transit or are transshipped and
do not enter SingaporeQs customs area. Due to the extraordinary
volume of cargo shipped through the port, it is highly likely
that some of it contains illicit materials. Singapore does not
require shipping lines to submit data on the declared contents
of transshipment or transit cargo unless there is a Singapore
consignee to the transaction. The lack of such information
makes enforcement a challenge. Customs authorities rely on
intelligence to discover and interdict illegal shipments. GOS
officials have been reluctant to impose tighter reporting or
inspection requirements at the port from concern that
inspections could interfere with the free flow of goods, thus
jeopardizing SingaporeQs position as the regionQs primary
transshipment port. However, Singapore has increased its
scrutiny of goods. In January 2003, SingaporeQs new export
control law went into effect. The GOS plans to expand its
strategic goods control list in January 2008. While both the
law and the control list seek to prevent the flow of WMD-related
goods, they introduce additional monitoring of some transshipped
cargo. In March 2003, Singapore became the first Asian port to
commence U.S. Container Security Initiative (CSI) operations,
under which U.S. Customs personnel prescreen U.S.-bound cargo.
While this initiative also is aimed at preventing WMD from
entering the United States, the increased scrutiny and
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information it generates could also aid drug interdiction
efforts. Singapore amended its Corruption, Drug Trafficking,
and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act in May
2006 to add 108 new categories to its "Schedule of Serious
14. The Government of Singapore participates in the precursor
chemical control programs, including Operation Purple, Operation
Topaz, and Operation Prism. The CNB works closely with DEA to
track the import of modest amounts of precursor chemicals for
legitimate processing and use in Singapore. CNBQs precursor
unit monitors and investigates any suspected domestic diversion
of precursors for illicit use. The CNB also monitors precursor
chemicals that are transshipped through Singapore to other
regional countries, although, as noted above, data on
transshipment and transit cargo are limited. Singapore notifies
the country of final destination before exporting transshipped
precursor chemicals.
15. Domestic Programs (Demand Reduction). Singapore uses a
combination of punishment and rehabilitation against first-time
drug offenders. Many first-time offenders are given
rehabilitation instead of jail time, although the rehabilitation
regime is mandatory and rigorous. The government may detain
addicts for rehabilitation for up to three years. In an effort
to discourage drug use during travel abroad, CNB officers may
require urinalysis tests for Singapore citizens and permanent
residents returning from outside the country. Those who test
positive are treated as if they had consumed the illegal drug in
16. Adopting the theme, "Prevention: The Best Remedy,"
Singapore authorities organize sporting events, concerts, plays,
and other activities to reach out to all segments of society on
drug prevention. Drug treatment centers, halfway houses, and
job placement programs exist to help addicts reintegrate into
society. At the same time, the GOS has toughened anti-
recidivist laws. Three-time offenders face long mandatory
sentences and caning. Depending on the quantity of drugs
involved, convicted drug traffickers may be subject to the death
penalty, regardless of nationality.
IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs
17. Singapore and the United States continue to enjoy good law
enforcement cooperation. In fiscal year 2005, approximately 25
GOS law enforcement officials (including 14 from the CNB)
attended training courses at the International Law Enforcement
Academy (ILEA) in Bangkok on a variety of transnational crime
topics. In addition, CNB officers attended a Drug Unit
Commanders course in Quantico, Virginia and an International
Narcotics Enforcement Managers course in Honolulu, Hawaii. The
GOS has cooperated extensively with the United States and other
countries in drug money laundering cases, including some sharing
of seized drug-related funds discovered in Singapore banks.
18. The Road Ahead. The United States will continue to work
closely with Singapore authorities on all narcotics trafficking
and related matters. Increased customs cooperation under CSI
and other initiatives and the prospect of a possible future MLAT
agreement will help further strengthen law enforcement
V. Statistical Tables:
Local Drug Abusers (Total and New) Arrested:
2004: Total = 955, New = 604
2005: Total = 793, New = 453*
*new drug abusers in 2005 decreased 25%
Local Offenders by Drug Type (2005):
Nimetazepam: 26%
Ketamine: 24%
Methamphetamine: 18%
Cannabis: 13%
MDMA: 11%
Heroin: 8%
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Comparison of Total Offenders (2004 and 2005):
--------------------------------------------- -
CY-2004 CY-2005
Heroin 111 62
Cannabis 117 102
MDMA 101 91
Methamphetamine 125 143
Ketamine 306 192
Nimetazepam 191 203
Cocaine 4 0
First-Time Offenders by Drug Type (2005):
Nimetazepam: 29%
Ketamine: 27%
Methamphetamine: 16%
MDMA: 15%
Cannabis: 11%
Heroin: 2%
Comparison of First-Time Offenders (2004 and 2005):
--------------------------------------------- ------
CY-2004 CY-2005
Heroin 16 8
Cannabis 85 50
MDMA 90 68
Methamphetamine 76 71
Ketamine 218 124
Nimetazepam 115 132
Cocaine 4 0
Offenders by Ethnicity (2004 and 2005):
CY-2004 CY-2005
Chinese 688 581
Malay 177 133
Indian 75 61
Others 15 18
Offenders by Age Group (2004 and 2005):
CY-2004 CY-2005
Below 20* 107 57
20 Q 29 424 377
30 Q 39 254 220
40 + 170 139
*Drug offenders arrested across all age groups registered
declines in 2005, with the largest decline (47%) among offenders
below 20 years of age.
Drug Seizures (2004 and 2005):
CY-2004 CY-2005
Heroin 4.5 kg 6.3 kg
Cannabis 9 kg 4.2 kg
MDMA 6,441 tabs 4,434 tabs
(QiceQ) 0.4 kg 0.5 kg
Tablets 16,235 tabs 83 tabs
Ketamine 4.7 kg 8.5 kg
Nimetazepam 156,922 tab 20,833 tabs
Cocaine 0.06 kg 0.02 kg
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