More drug abusers caught using Ice

SINGAPORE - Ice and the rising number of Chinese drug abusers were among the points of concern when the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) released its mid-year drug situation report on Monday.

Statistics showed that for the first six months of this year, new methamphetamine - or Ice - abusers made up almost 60 per cent of all new abusers arrested.

While this proportion is largely unchanged compared with the same period last year, the total number of abusers arrested for Ice has gone up - from 519 in the first six months of last year, to 564 in the same period this year.

Meanwhile, 22.5kg of Ice was seized between January and June this year, a sharp increase from 9.5kg in the first half of last year. Most of it was meant for overseas markets.

Ice, Singapore's second-most abused drug after heroin, is a well-known party drug said to be popular with youngsters.

"It is a lifestyle drug, the kind used commonly in nightclubs - that's a reflection of growing affluence," said Mr Edwin Tong, deputy chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Home Affairs and Law.

"Many of the abusers are young people too, so it is a trend we have to arrest because once you start young, it is harder to break the abuse."

The alarming Ice statistics coincide with continuing concerns over the proportion of young drug abusers here.

In the first half of this year, 270 new abusers aged between 20 and 29 were arrested.

This is more than half of the total number of new abusers who were nabbed.

In terms of the total number of abusers arrested, there were more aged between 30 and 39 - the only age category that posted an increase.

In this age group, there were 463 arrests in the first half of this year, compared with 391 in the same period last year.

Again, when it came to new abusers, the 30 to 39 age group was the only one which posted an increase, from 110 to 115.

Another statistic which stood out: The overall number of Chinese drug abusers surged by 19 per cent in the first six months of this year, from 522 in the same period last year, to 621.

The number of new Chinese drug abusers arrested also rose by 24 per cent, from 151 to 187.

Heroin and methamphetamine are the two most popular drugs of choice among Chinese abusers, at a combined 86 per cent, said a CNB spokesman.

"Sixty-five per cent of repeat Chinese abusers prefer heroin while 53 per cent of new Chinese abusers prefer methamphetamine," he added. "This reflects the rising popularity of methamphetamine."

In the overall drug picture. the total number of drug abusers arrested increased 3 per cent in the first half of this year, compared with the same period last year.

There were 1,731 arrests in the first half of last year, compared with 1,790 in the same period of this year.

The statistics also showed an overall increase in drug seizures, with Ice, Ecstasy and nimetazepam (Erimin-5) showing the largest increases in the quantity seized.

Said the CNB spokesman: "The overall increase in seizures is an indication of the challenging regional drug situation, especially with the increased production of drugs in the region."

brynasim@sph.com.sg

Additional reporting by Lim Yi Han


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