State authorities shift crosshairs onto drug dealers

Fatimah (seated centre) and others holding up placards to promote the #careforsarawak campaign to sustain social wellbeing in Sarawak. Sahar is seated second from right.

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By Geryl Ogilvy

KUCHING, April 16: State authorities have been intensifying their war against drugs in Sarawak, and the attention is now shifting towards the dealers, which have been increasing over the past three years.

Sarawak Narcotics CID chief Supt Sahar Abdul Latif said 426 drugs dealers have been identified in the state this year, and 275 have been caught between January and March.

Last year, police apprehended 537 drug dealers. In 2016 and 2017, 328 and 493 dealers were arrested respectively.

This year alone, police have confiscated drugs, equipment and other assets used by drug dealers amounting close to RM1 million. He believed the value would rise to RM3 million by May as the police enhanced their raids and operations.

He added that the police had set up a One Stop Committee (OSC) programme, which involves integrated agencies as well as the society to combat drugs and substance abuse in Sarawak.

In the past two years, the programme had carried out 294 operations across the state to monitor drugs-related activities.

The police have also set up a standard operating procedure (SOP) on students to combat the distribution of drugs in schools. The model, implemented in Sarawak since Jan 1 this year, has been adopted nationwide in February.

“We have to give extra focus on the dealers, considering the significant increase in the past three years. Through our SOP on drugs prevention in schools, 13 dealers have been caught this year.

“We need to decrease the impact of drugs and substance abuse on the society. We will go all out to fight drugs. There will be no tolerance on the dealers,” Sahar told reporters during a briefing on drugs and substance abuse here today.

The briefing was carried out with Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah and other relevant agencies at her office at Baitulmakmur Complex.

As for individuals caught for drugs possession, arrests in the first three months this year totalled 658, including 118 students — with one aged 14-years-old.

The trend in statistics has not changed in the past three years, with individuals apprehended for drugs possession numbering 1,609, 1,685 and 1,628 in 2016, 2017 and 2018, respectively.

“The Malays remain the community with the highest number of drug-related cases,” he said.

On a related note, the state MIDS (drugs and substance abuse prevention) Committee have carried out urine tests in schools across the state. The committee is looking to carry out similar programmes at the workplace starting this year.

The committee proposed the setting up of regional centres across the state to expedite getting results for the urine tests.

MIDS is also looking to set up a special One Stop Centre to rehabilitate drug addicts, where residents will also help others to kick the habit and turn over a new leaf. The pilot project will be set up in Miri.

Fatimah supported initiatives to involve the community in combating drugs.

While the government and agencies continued with efforts to advocate the dangers of drugs and substance abuse, the people needed to help the authorities monitor drugs-related activities, she commented.

“To fight drugs, we need to combat the whole chain, from the users to dealers and distributors, crippling the market. We cannot work in a silo. There needs to be a collaboration between all authorities, including Customs and Immigration.

“The community must be involved. Parents, family members, teachers, neighbours, must report of known drug activities, addicts or dealers to fight this menace. We need society to carry the message and raise awareness,” she added. — DayakDaily