Cablegate: 2007-2008 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report

DE RUEHGP #1989/01 3040743
R 310743Z OCT 07






E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: STATE 136782

1. (U) Per reftel instructions, this message is Post's draft
2007-2008 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, Part I -
Drug and Chemical Control. Part II will be submitted septel.

2. (SBU) Begin text.

I. Summary

The Government of Singapore (GOS) enforces stringent
counternarcotics policies through strict laws -- including the death
penalty and corporal punishment -- 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 potentially an attractive target
for money launderers and those engaged in drug transshipment.
Singapore is widely recognized as one of the least corrupt countries
in the world. Corruption cases involving Singapore's
counternarcotics and law enforcement agencies are rare, and their
officers regularly attend U.S.-sponsored training programs as well
as regional forums on drug control. Singapore is a party to the
1988 United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic
Drugs and Psychotropic Substance (UN Drug Convention).

According to GOS statistics, the number of drug abusers arrested
in 2006 increased 34.8 percent to 1,218, up from 793 in 2005.
The change in part reflects additional enforcement actions
related to amendments made to the Misuse of Drugs Act in August
2006. The number of first-time offenders in Singapore increased
slightly in 2006, with 477 arrests compared to 463 in 2005. Nearly
half (49 percent) of drug abusers used synthetic drugs, including
Ketamine, Methamphetamine, MDMA (Ecstasy), Erimin-5, and
Nimetazepam. Buprenorphine (Subutex) users accounted for 31
percent, and heroin offenders for 9.7 percent, of total drug

II. Status of Country

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 illicit drugs or precursor chemicals,
it is one of the busiest transshipment ports in the world. The
sheer volume of cargo passing through makes it likely that some
illicit shipments of drugs and chemicals move undetected. With
few exceptions, Singapore does not screen containerized
shipments unless they enter its customs territory. Neither
Singapore Customs nor the Immigration and Checkpoint Authority
(ICA) keep data on in-transit or transshipped cargo unless there
is a Singapore consignee involved in the shipment.

III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2006

Policy Initiatives

Singapore continues to pursue a strategy of demand and supply
reduction for drugs. The GOS 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 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.
Singapore has continued efforts to curb synthetic drug abuse, of
which Ketamine abuse is the most prevalent. Amendments made to the
Misuse of Drugs Act in 2006 designated Ketamine as a Class A
Controlled Drug and increased penalties for trafficking
accordingly. Anyone in possession of more than 113g of Ketamine
is presumed to be trafficking in the drug and can face maximum
penalties of 20 years imprisonment and 15 strokes of the cane.

Amendments to the Misuse of Drugs Act also established long-term
imprisonment penalties for repeat synthetic drug abusers. Those
arrested for a third time are subject to five to seven years
imprisonment and three to six strokes of the cane; and seven to 13

SINGAPORE 00001989 002 OF 004

years imprisonment and six to 12 strokes of the cane for subsequent
offenses. Singapore's long term imprisonment regime, first
introduced in 1998, is thought to have helped curb the country's
heroin use.

Additional amendments to the Misue of Drugs Act classified
Buprenorphine, the active ingredient in Subutex, as a Class A
Controlled Drug. This means that, unless dispensed by a
licensed physician or practitioner, the importation,
distribution, possession and consumption of Subutex is a felony
offense. Subutex, first introduced by the Ministry of Health in
2000, is a heroin substitute clinically used in the
detoxification/rehabilitation of heroin addicts. Drug abusers
were found to be abusing Subutex by mixing it with other drugs,
mainly Dormicum, a prescription sleeping pill. Buprenophine was
the most commonly abused drug in Singapore in 2006, comprising
more than one-third of total narcotics offenders.

Law Enforcement Efforts

As noted above, arrests for drug-related offenses increased 34.8
percent, from 793 arrests in 2005 to 1218 arrests in 2006, a
reflection of new enforcement measures under the amended Misuse
of Drugs Act. These statistics include persons arrested for
trafficking offenses, possession, and consumption. Nearly 46
percent of all drug arrests involved synthetic drugs, including
Nimetazepam (14.9 percent); Ketamine (15.3 percent);
Methamphetamine (10.2 percent); and MDMA or Ecstasy (5.5
percent). Non-synthetic drug-related arrests included marijuana
(10 percent) and heroin (9.7 percent). Singapore recorded no
cocaine-related seizures or arrests in 2006. Of the total
arrests, 477 involved new drug abusers.

In 2006, authorities executed 52 major operations, during which
they dismantled 25 drug syndicates. A majority of these arrests
were conducted during sweeps of drug distribution groups, which
were infiltrated by undercover Singapore narcotics officers.
CNB officers frequently perform undercover work, purchasing
small, personal-use amounts of narcotics from generally low and
mid-level traffickers and drug abusers. These sweeps often
produce additional arrests when subjects present at arrest
scenes test positive for narcotics in their system.

Singapore's CNB seized the following quantities of narcotics in
2006: 6.1 kg of heroin; 14.9 kg of cannabis; 4,136 tablets of
MDMA; 0.5 kg of crystal Methamphetamine; 22 tablets of tablet
Methamphetamine; 5.3 kg of Ketamine; 38,230 Nimetazepam tablets;
and 6,432 Buprenorphine tablets.


Singapore's Corruption Practices Bureau (CPB) actively
investigates allegations of corruption at all levels of
government. Neither the government nor any senior government
officials is thought to engage in, encourage or facilitate the
production or distribution of narcotics or other controlled
substances, or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug
transactions. The CNB is charged with the enforcement of
Singapore's counternarcotics laws. Its officers and other elements
of the Singapore Police Force are well-trained professional

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
U.S.-UK Extradition Treaty. Singapore and the United States
signed a Drug Designation Agreement (DDA) in November 2000, a
mutual assistance agreement limited to drug cases. 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 has signed, but has not yet ratified, the UN
Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the UN
Corruption Convention. In April 2006, Singapore amended

SINGAPORE 00001989 003 OF 004

domestic legislation to allow for mutual legal assistance
cooperation with countries for which they do not have a
bilateral treaty.


There was no known cultivation or production of narcotics in
Singapore in 2006.

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 Singapore's
customs area. Due to the extraordinary volume of cargo shipped
through the port, it is highly likely that some of it contains
illicit materials, although Singapore is not a known transit
point for illicit drugs or precursor chemicals. 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 creates enforcement challenges. Singapore Customs
authorities rely on intelligence to uncover and interdict
illegal shipments. They reported no seizures of transshipment or
transit cargoes involving illicit narcotics shipments in
2006. GOS officials have been reluctant to impose tighter
reporting or inspection requirements at the port, citing
concerns that inspections could interfere with the free flow of
goods, thus jeopardizing Singapore's position as the region's
primary transshipment port.

However, Singapore has increased its scrutiny of goods,
primarily as part of an enhanced posture to combat terrorism and
control the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD)
and their precursors. Singapore became the first Asian port to
join the Container Security Initiative (CSI) in 2003, under
which U.S. Customs personnel prescreen U.S.-bound cargo.
Singapore also participates in other counterterrorism-related
programs such as the Proliferation Security Initiative, the
Megaports Initiative, and the Secure Freight Initiative.
The country's new export control law went into effect in 2003, and
Singapore is implementing an expanded strategic goods control list
that takes effect in January 2008. While these initiatives aim to
prevent WMD from entering the United States, the increased scrutiny
and information they generate could also aid drug interdiction

Singapore is a major regional aviation hub. Changi
International Airport handled 35 million passengers in 2006.
The Changi Airfreight Center is one of the world's busiest and
operates as a Free Trade Zone where companies can move,
consolidate, store or repack cargo without the need for
documentation or customs duties. CNB seized narcotics at Changi
Airport in 2006, including a 20 kilogram shipment of marijuana
smuggled from Johannesburg, South Africa.

Domestic Programs (Demand Reduction)

Singapore uses a combination of punishment and rehabilitation of
first-time drug offenders. Rehabilitation of drug abusers typically
occurs during incarceration. 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 Singapore.

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

SINGAPORE 00001989 004 OF 004

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs

Bilateral Cooperation

The United States and Singapore enjoy good law enforcement
cooperation, in particular under the Drug Designation Agreement.
In 2006, approximately 45 GOS law enforcement officials attended
training courses at the International Law Enforcement Academy
(ILEA) in Bangkok on a variety of transnational crime topics.
The GOS has cooperated with the United States and other
countries in the forfeiture of drug-related proceeds discovered
in Singapore banks, including the equitable sharing of seized
and forfeited drug-related funds with the United States.

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
will help further strengthen law enforcement cooperation.

V. Chemical Control Issues

Singapore was the largest non-U.S. importer of Ephedrine, a
precursor for Methamphetamine, in 2005 (latest available data)
and the third-largest non-U.S. exporter. The quantities not re-
exported are used primarily by the domestic pharmaceutical
industry. Singapore is one of the largest distributors of
Acetic Anhydride in Asia. Used in film processing and the
manufacture of plastics, pharmaceuticals, and industrial
chemicals, acetic anhydride is also the primary acetylating
agent for heroin.

Singapore participates in multilateral precursor chemical
control programs, including Operation Purple, Operation Topaz,
and Operation Prism, and is involved in law enforcement
initiatives developed under these projects to halt worldwide
diversion of precursors to illicit chemical trafficking and drug
manufacturing organizations. The CNB works closely with the DEA
office in Singapore to track the import of precursor chemicals
for legitimate processing and use in Singapore. CNB's precursor
unit monitors and investigates any suspected domestic diversion
of precursors for illicit use.

Singapore is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention and controls
precursor chemicals, including Pseudoephedrine and Ephedrine, in
accordance with its provisions. Singapore will not authorize
imports of precursors until it has issued a "No Objection" letter in
response to the exporting country's pre-export notification.
Pre-export notifications are issued on all exports; transshipment
cases are treated as an import followed by an export. The GOS
conducts rigorous site visits on companies dealing with controlled
chemicals to ensure awareness of the requirements and overall


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