What happens during a CNB raid? TNP gets a behind-the-scenes look
TNP gets a look at what happens during a CNB raid
The doorbell rang and the occupants inside the hotel room could be heard stirring.
Outside, a group of men and women had their backs close to the wall, armed and waiting eagerly for the signal.
When the lock was slowly unlatched and the door creaked open, the group rushed into the room with a "Good morning, we're from CNB (Central Narcotics Bureau)."
At just past 9am, the surprised occupants of the hotel room in the Balestier Road area could hardly register in their minds what had just happened.
On Monday, CNB officers conducted a large-scale anti-drug operation targeting suspicious guests at budget hotels in Balestier and Geylang.
They arrested 10 suspected drug offenders.
About 10g of methamphetamine or "Ice" was seized, as well as drug paraphernalia including a digital weighing scale and improvised drug-smoking apparatus.
The New Paper followed one of the teams conducting the morning raid.
The officers, aged between 20s and 40s, gave this reporter an up-close and personal look at their battle against drugs.
The team that raided three hotels were extremely professional. Nothing on them screamed CNB - some of the officers could be easily mistaken for your typical teenager or man in the street.
But make no mistake, the officers are all armed, said Superintendent (Supt) Saherly Limat, Commanding Officer of CNB Enforcement F Division.
He said: "Usually, if the suspects has nothing to hide, they know for sure they're clean. They just want the episode to end quickly. So they're cooperative."
But suspects can turn violent when they have broken the law.
Supt Saherly said: "Our officers are trained in basic control and restraint techniques. The violent suspects would be brought down for sure, but without any injuries as far as possible."
Before entering the rooms, the team first went through the guest list.
They looked for tell-tale signs such as guests with outstanding arrest warrants, prior drug convictions or those who registered using fake identification.
Once the suspects were identified, each member of the team stuck to his or her assigned role.
Some secured the hotel perimeter. Others carried the team's operations bag or even a bag with house-breaking tools.
During the raid, most of the occupants allowed the officers to search their belongings.
A tense moment erupted in a room on the sixth storey when a male occupant started shouting vulgarities.
But he later apologised, claiming he had directed it at his wife instead of the lead officer.
Scanning the rooms, the officers looked for tell-tale objects like straws or burnt aluminium foil from a cigarette box.
Supt Saherly revealed that frequently seized drugs include Ice and NPS (New Psychoactive Substances).
Once the room was cleared and no suspicious items found, the officers left - but not before thanking the occupants for their co-operation.
At the end of the three-hour operation, no drugs were seized at the hotel where TNP accompanied CNB.
But two women were taken to CNB headquarters at Cantonment for urine tests.
One man, who had been flagged after his name appeared in a missing persons report, was also escorted back and has since been referred to the relevant authorities.
One tired-looking CNB officer from the team said that aside from looking for drugs, the team's role was also to project CNB's presence so others may be deterred from taking drugs.