SINGAPORE: Authorities arrested three people for suspected drug activities and seized 200 vials of fentanyl and other illegal medicines after detecting anomalies while scanning a parcel at Changi Airfreight Centre.
In a joint statement on Saturday (Mar 6), the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA), Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) and the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) said the parcel arrived from Vietnam and was declared as "medicine".
Upon conducting further checks on Mar 1, ICA officers uncovered 200 vials believed to contain about 20mg of fentanyl, a Class A controlled drug in Singapore.
They also found other illegal medicines in the parcel, including 3,990 tablets labelled as diazepam, 400 tablets tagged as codeine phosphate, 300 tablets labelled as gabapentin and 40 vials marked as midazolam.
"Fentanyl is known to be a very potent opioid, approximately 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine," said the authorities.
Following the detection, CNB conducted a follow-up operation in the same afternoon in the vicinity of Beach Road and arrested the intended recipient of the parcel, a 30 year-old Singapore permanent resident.
She was arrested with two other Singaporean man, aged 62 and 65, for suspected drug-related offences.
The three suspects were taken to their hideout, an apartment in the same vicinity, said the authorities.
During a search of the apartment, HSA seized about 16 litres of cough syrup that were stored in cannisters and bottles, and more than 4,500 units of unlabelled tablets and pills. The illegal medicines have a total street value of about S$9,300.
"Preliminary investigations revealed that the apartment was used to illegally manufacture and store the cough syrup and medicines," said the authorities.
"Instruments used for mixing and rebottling, such as a high-speed industrial blender, funnels and measuring containers, were also seized."
Investigations into the drug activities of the three suspects are ongoing.
CNB reiterated that fentanyl and its derivatives are listed as Class A controlled drugs under Singapore's Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA).
Fentanyl abuse can lead to nausea, drowsiness, respiratory depress, low blood pressure and slow heart rate.
"Due to its potency, fentanyl abuse brings with it a heightened risk of death as a result of overdosing and there have been many cases in overseas jurisdictions of overdose deaths relating to fentanyl and its derivatives," said the authorities.
"The possession, consumption, importation or trafficking of any controlled drug is an offence under the MDA. Singapore adopts a zero tolerance stance in our fight against drug abuse.
"Any person who is found to have committed an offence involving a controlled drug will be dealt with in accordance to the law."
Anyone found guilty of importing, manufacturing and/or supplying illegal health products may be jailed up to 2 years, fined up to S$50,000 or both.