Singapore

Man moves family away from Geylang drug peddlers

Resident shocked at sale of drugs at Geylang coffee shop

He thought he knew what Geylang was like when he and his family moved into a condominium there.

Still, he did not expect to see men illegally peddling prescription drugs in broad daylight.

Stunned by their brazenness, he contacted the authorities out of fear that the peddlers would approach his wife and young child.

He also e-mailed The New Paper and a team staked out the area. After TNP contacted the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) with its observations, HSA raided the place last Friday, and seized almost 900 units of prescription drugs.

The Geylang resident, who wanted to be known only as Mr Tan, contacted TNP on April 10. He said he had moved into his parents' condominium in Lorong 12 Geylang last year.

Over the next four months, he noticed a group of men loitering at a coffee shop near his condominium.

They were there at all hours, so he finally asked one of them what they were doing.

The man allegedly offered to sell him prescription drugs, such as nitrazepam (a sedative to treat anxiety and insomnia), codeine and cough syrup, at a "good price".

The cough syrup was priced at $15, $20 or $35 based on their quality, Mr Tan said.

Worried for his family's well-being, Mr Tan moved out of Geylang last month. He and his family now live in a rented HDB flat in the north-east of Singapore.

He said: "My family would have to pass by the coffee shop every time we leave the condo, and these people were selling drugs.

"We knew that Geylang isn't the cleanest place in Singapore, but we didn't think it would be this blatant."

A few days after being contacted by Mr Tan, TNP went to the coffee shop at about 8.30pm. A group of five men were sitting at a table next to a dimly-lit alley.

In front of the alley were another three men, who could have been runners or lookouts. They wore ear pieces connected to their mobile phones.

STASHED IN FREEZER

When potential customers approached the men in the alley, they chatted for a while before one of them walked into the alley, reached into a freezer and returned with what looked like a small slab of pills.

He then handed the pills to the customers and received money in exchange.

(Above) The TNP team noticed one of the men taking the drugs from a white freezer on the left of a staircase. 

When TNP approached one of the men, he asked if we wanted anything.

When asked what he had, he put two fingers to his lips and made a gesture as if he was smoking, indicating he had cigarettes.

We declined and later informed the HSA.

On Tuesday, the HSA told TNP that it conducted a joint operation with the police last Friday following our feedback.

It seized 880 "Epam" nitrazepam tablets and 18 bottles of cough mixture with an estimated street value of $1,000.

The nitrazepam pills and cough mixture bottles that were seized during the raid by HSA and police. PHOTO: HSA

An HSA spokesman said the drugs were inside the freezer in the alley.

TNP understands that some men are helping in the investigations.

The HSA warned the public that drugs, such as cough syrup, sleeping tablets and sexual enhancement drugs, are potentially harmful and should only be taken under medical supervision.

On Wednesday, Mr Tan told TNP he was relieved that the authorities had taken action against the alleged peddlers.

He said: "It's great to hear that the authorities have clamped down on them. Now that they are no longer operating outside the condo, maybe we'd consider moving back there."

TNP tip-off led to drug seizure

The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) and the police seized 880 nitrazepam tablets and 18 bottles of cough mixture in a raid in Geylang last Friday.

Its spokesman confirmed that the joint operation was the result of The New Paper's feedback about the illegal sale of prescription drugs there.

He said the HSA is working regularly with other law enforcement agencies, such as the police, to review and tackle complaints about the illegal sale of prescription drugs in Geylang.

Since December last year, it has seized about 30,000 units of sexual enhancement drugs and cough syrup with an estimated street value of $80,000.

The spokesman said: "These illegal products are often produced under poor manufacturing conditions with no quality control by unscrupulous persons who have little regard for human health.

"These products usually contain undeclared Western medicinal ingredients or toxic ingredients in varying proportions, or contain ingredients not stated on the packaging, which could result in adverse health outcomes."

It is an offence to illegally sell or supply these prescription drugs. Anyone convicted under the Poisons Act can be jailed up to two years and fined up to $10,000.

If you encounter an illegal sale of prescription-only medicines, report it to HSA's Enforcement Branch by calling 6866-3485 or e-mailing hsa_is@hsa.gov.sg.

Other raids in Geylang

MARCH 2016:

A week-long multi-agency operation led to 82 suspects being arrested for various offences, including the sale of illegal sexual enhancement products, peddling of contraband cigarettes and public gambling.

A total of 63 men and 19 women were arrested.

The operation was led by the Bedok Police Division and involved enforcement officers from the Health Sciences Authority (HSA), Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB), Singapore Customs, and the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA).

DECEMBER 2015:

Four men in their 20s were arrested and illegal drugs worth about $40,000 were seized in a joint operation by on Dec 23. During the seven-hour operation by the HSA, CNB and the police, cough syrup, prescription drugs, and sexual enhancement drugs were seized.

MAY 2015:

The HSA seized more than $200,000 worth of illegal health products from a Geylang apartment.

The stash was discovered during a routine enforcement check by the ICA, which then alerted the HSA.

The haul included more than 94,000 units of mainly sexual enhancement drugs.

drugsGeylangUncategorisedhealthNitrazepam