SINGAPORE: The number of new drug abusers arrested in 2019 went up by about 8 per cent compared to the year before, the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) said on Thursday (Feb 6).
A total of 1,469 new drug abusers were arrested last year, up from 1,364 in 2018, said CNB, adding that 61 per cent of the new abusers arrested were under 30 years old.
The total number of drug abusers arrested also increased by 2.5 per cent to 3,524 in 2019 from 3,439 in the previous year.
"This was due to the increase in the number of new psychoactive substances (NPS) and methamphetamine abusers arrested," CNB said in its media release.
However, arrests of repeat drug abusers dropped slightly by 1 per cent to 2,055 in 2019 from 2,075 in the previous year.
CNB also noted that the number of Chinese drug abusers arrested went up by 9 per cent while the number of abusers in other ethnic groups did not change significantly.
The number of new Chinese abusers arrested jumped 23 per cent to 497 in 2019, from 404 in 2018.
Methamphetamine, heroin and NPS were the three most commonly abused drugs in 2019, said CNB, with 93 per cent of drug abusers abusing at least one of these three drugs.
Methamphetamine abusers made up the largest proportion of all new abusers.
Last year, together with the police and immigration authorities, CNB conducted 17 island-wide operations targeting drug traffickers and abusers, as well as 1,434 operations at Singapore's checkpoints to intercept attempts to smuggle drugs into Singapore. It also carried out major operations which crippled 28 drug syndicates.
CNB said that the street value of all drugs seized in 2019 was approximately S$6.52 million.
There was a 35 per cent drop in seizures of heroin from around 58kg in 2018 to about 38kg in 2019. Cannabis seizures also decreased by 55 per cent to 28kg in 2019 from close to 62kg in the previous year.
The amount of crystalline methamphetamine, also known as "Ice", seized increased by 61 per cent to 31kg in 2019 from about 19kg in the previous year.
Touching on regional developments, CNB said that the increase in methamphetamine supply could have "adverse downstream implications on our drug situation".
"The push for drug liberalisation in some countries is a cause for concern," said CNB.
"We must also not underestimate the impact of social media and mass media in spreading misinformation that normalises drug use, especially among our young."
The 2019 World Drug Report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime World reported that Southeast Asia (SEA) has "emerged as the world’s fastest growing methamphetamine market".
The illicit methamphetamine market in SEA and the wider Asia Pacific region is estimated to be worth between US$30.3 billion and US$61.4 billion annually, said the report.