Cablegate: 2008-2009 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report
RR RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHGP #1160/01 3080137
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 030137Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5944
INFO RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 SINGAPORE 001160
STATE FOR INL JOHN LYLE
JUSTICE FOR OIA AND ARMLS
TREASURY FOR FINCEN
DEA FOR OILS AND OFFICE OF DIVERSION CONTROL
CIA FOR CNC
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KCRM SNAR ECON ETRD PREL SN
SUBJECT: 2008-2009 INTERNATIONAL NARCOTICS CONTROL STRATEGY REPORT
(INCSR) PART I, DRUGS AND CHEMICAL CONTROL
REF: STATE 100989
1. (U) Per reftel instructions, Post submits its draft 2008-2009
International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, Part I - Drug and
2. (SBU) Begin Text:
The Government of Singapore (GOS) enforces stringent
counter-narcotics 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 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. Singapore is a party to the 1988 United Nations
II. Status of Country
In 2007, 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.
According to GOS figures, in 2007 authorities arrested 2,166 drug
abusers, compared to 1,218 arrests in 2006. Importantly, the
increase in arrests by the GOS most likely does not represent an
increase in narcotics trafficking, but rather the result of an
August 2006 amendment to the Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA) that added
buprenorphine hydrochloride, the active ingredient in the opiate
Subutex, as a Class A controlled drug, and subsequent enforcement
action by the Singapore Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB). According
to GOS statistics, in 2007 the number of first-time drug offenders
increased from 477 arrests in 2006 to 520 arrests in 2007. In 2007
repeat drug offenders also increased with 1,661 arrested, compared
to 741 arrested in 2006. Similarly, and consistent with previous
years, abusers of synthetic drugs, including methamphetamine, MDMA,
Erimin-5 buprenorphine hydrochloride and nimetazepam, comprise 63
percent of total drug abusers. The most significant increase is
registered in the number of heroin abusers. In 2006 heroin
offenders accounted for only 9.7 percent of total drug abusers, but
this increased to 31 percent of total drug abusers in 2007.
Conversely, decreases were observed in the number of MDMA, Ketamine
and Nimetazepam abusers in 2007.
III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2007
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. Singaporean citizens 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 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 is the most prevalent. Amendments to the Misuse of
Drugs Act in 2006 designated Ketamine as a Class A Controlled Drug
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and increased penalties for trafficking accordingly. An individual
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.
Additional 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 up to seven years
imprisonment and seven strokes of the cane, and up to 13 years
imprisonment and 12 strokes of the cane for subsequent offenses.
Singapore's long term imprisonment regime, first introduced in 1998,
is considered a contributing factor in curbing the country's heroin
The Misuse of Drugs Act now classifies buprenorphine, the active
ingredient in Subutex, as a Class A Controlled Drug. 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. Buprenorphine was the most
commonly abused drug in Singapore in 2006, involved in more than
one-third of total narcotics offenses.
Law Enforcement Efforts
As noted above, arrests for drug-related offenses increased 43.7
percent, from 1,218 arrests in 2006 to 2,166 arrests in 2007, a
reflection of new enforcement measures under the amended Misuse of
Drugs Act. These statistics include persons arrested for
trafficking, possession, and consumption of illegal drugs. The
majority of drug-related arrests in 2007 were of abusers of
buprenorphine, at 38 percent, followed by heroin at 31 percent.
Abuse of synthetic drugs including Ecstasy, methamphetamine,
Ketamine and nimetazepam accounted for 26 percent of drug arrests.
Singapore recorded no cocaine-related seizures or arrests in 2007.
Of the total arrests, 520 involved new drug abusers.
In 2007, authorities executed 31 major enforcement operations which
dismantled 27 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
2007: 17.2 kg of heroin; 30.3 kg of cannabis; 7,029 tablets of
MDMA; 1.48 kg of crystal Methamphetamine; 518 tablets of tablet
Methamphetamine; 4.6 kg of Ketamine; 24,881 Nimetazepam tablets; and
3,435 buprenorphine tablets.
Singapore's Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) actively
investigates allegations of corruption at all levels of government.
Neither the government nor any senior government official is
believed 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 counter narcotics laws.
Its officers and other elements of the Singapore Police Force are
well-trained professional investigators.
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 colonial-era 1931 U.S.-UK
Extradition Treaty. Singapore and the United States signed a Drug
Designation Agreement (DDA) in November 2000, a mutual legal
assistance agreement limited to drug cases. Singapore has signed
mutual legal assistance agreements with Hong Kong and ASEAN. The
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United States and Singapore have held discussions on a possible
bilateral Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), most recently in
December 2005, although there have been no formal negotiations since
2004. Singapore has signed, but has not ratified, the UN Convention
against Transnational Organized Crime and the UN Corruption
Convention. In April 2006, Singapore amended domestic legislation
to allow for mutual legal assistance cooperation with countries with
which they do not have a bilateral treaty.
There was no known cultivation or production of narcotics in
Singapore in 2007.
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. Similarly, the Port of Singapore is the second largest
transshipment port in the world for cargo containers destined for
the United States. According to GOS statistics during 2007, at the
maritime Port of Singapore shipping tonnage reached 1,459 million
gross tons (GT). This represents an increase of 11 percent from the
1,315 million GT record set in 2006. Given 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 transshipped cargoes
involving illicit narcotics shipments in 2007. 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, jeopardizing Singapore's
position as the region's primary transshipment port.
However, Singapore has increased its scrutiny of shipped 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 and the Megaports Initiative.
Singapore's export control law went into effect in 2003, and it is
implementing an expanded strategic goods control list that took
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 efforts.
Singapore is a major regional aviation hub. In 2007, Changi
International Airport handled 36.7 million passengers, a 4.8 percent
increase over 2006 figures. 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.
Domestic Programs (Demand Reduction)
Singapore uses a combination of punishment and rehabilitation
against first-time drug offenders. Rehabilitation of drug abusers
typically occurs during incarceration. The government may detain
addicts for rehabilitation for up to three years. Similarly, under
Singapore's "three strikes" laws, third-time convicted drug
offenders are subject to a minimum of five years imprisonment and
three strokes of the cane. 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
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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
IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives
Singapore and the United States enjoy good law enforcement
cooperation, in particular under the Drug Designation Agreement. In
2007, 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 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
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. It 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 compliance.