CNB Investigating SMS Drug Peddling

Drug-pushing has been taken to a new level in Singapore: Dealers are now touting through mass-SMS, raising concerns, in particular, of youths being sucked into abusing.

One such text message seen by TODAY, sent from a number the receiver is not acquainted with, read: “Dealing with Ecstasy, LSD, heroin, cocaine, crack, magic mushrooms, amphetamines, Cannabis, Methylphenidate (Ritalin), Pholcodine, Ketamine. Call or Whatsapp.”

The Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) told TODAY it was recently alerted to such a practice among drug dealers.

“CNB is aware of the Short Message Service claiming supply of drugs and is looking into the matter,” said its spokesperson.

Such “brazen” peddling calls for concern, said youth counsellors, especially as drug abuse among youths is on the rise.

Figures released by the CNB in January show that while the overall number of drug abusers has fallen, more young people are getting hooked on drugs.

Two-thirds of the 1,058 new abusers arrested last year were below the age of 30. Five years ago, this group made up only about 29 per cent of the number of new abusers.

Mr Viknesan SB, senior counsellor at the National Addictions Management Service, said such easy accessibility can tempt youths to try drugs out of curiosity.

Dr Carol Balhetchet, senior director of youth services at the Singapore Children’s Society, said she is “deeply concerned” because children and youths-at-risk spend a lot of time on their phones and social media.

“It is quite natural that peddlers are getting more creative … I will not be surprised if they use the same approach to get youths to join neighbourhood gangs, be involved in unlicensed money lending, and so on,” she said.

Since it is impossible to prevent youths from being exposed to such peddling methods, Dr Balhetchet said “the only right approach is education … to teach youths not to answer to such peddlers”.

Mr Low Kar Leong, a social worker at Care Corner Singapore, said while the dealers’ latest tactic makes it easier for those who want to get drugs, it does not mean more youths will jump on the bandwagon.

“Their first point of contact is usually their friends,” he said.

Asked about how easy it would be to take these drug dealers to task — given that even pre-paid SIM cards now have to be registered — lawyers were divided in their opinion.

Citing how “trafficking” is defined in the Misuse of Drugs Act, criminal lawyer Josephus Tan said anyone who makes an offer to sell, give, administer, transport, send, deliver or distribute drugs can be convicted.

Lawyer Raj Mannar, however, said whether money and goods changed hands is another element in proving criminal liability.

Although law enforcement officers can easily trace who owns the mobile phone numbers, he pointed out that fraudulently registered prepaid cards have been used to perpetuate crimes.

“So I don’t think you can charge someone based solely on the text message. It will just be part of the evidence,” he said.



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *