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Singapore says 13 foreigners arrested in drug bust

Armed officers keep tight security in Singapores
Singapore police said Thursday they had arrested 13 foreigners including British, American, Japanese, Thai and Malaysian nationals and a Singaporean for drug offences.

Singapore's Central Narcotics Bureau said in a statement on its Web site that it had arrested a total of 14 people in a series of raids on Tuesday.

It said the raids uncovered drugs, including cocaine and cannabis, with a total street value of over S$9,400 (US$5,575).

Singapore has some of the world's toughest laws against drugs. Last week, a 25-year-old Australian drug trafficker was executed in Singapore, sparking protests in Australia against the death penalty.

Police said that among the three Britons detained on Tuesday were a 30-year-old company director and a 45-year-old management consultant. A 31-year-old American executive was also arrested together with a 44-year-old Japanese company director.

Seven Thais and a Malaysian were also arrested.

In October 2004, the Central Narcotics Bureau conducted a series of raids that led to the arrest of 23 people including an editor at Singapore Tatler and a celebrity chef.

Briton charged with cocaine trafficking in Singapore
16:14 2005-12-08

Singapore charged a British man with cocaine trafficking Thursday after arresting him along with 12 other foreigners and a Singaporean in an anti-drug operation this week, officials said. Management consultant Lionel Rudolf Zupancich, 45, faces up to 20 years in jail and 15 strokes of the cane if found guilty of trafficking in about 7 grams (0.25 ounces) of cocaine, court documents sent to The Associated Press showed.

Two other British people as well as seven Thais, a Malaysian, a Japanese, an American and a Singaporean were also arrested in a sting operation Tuesday. The arrests came days after Singapore's execution of convicted Australian heroin trafficker Nguyen Tuong Van drew outrage from Australia's government, and raised international appeals for the tightly controlled city-state to end its mandatory death penalty for those caught trafficking in certain amounts of some drugs, including heroin and marijuana.

Singapore investigators say Zupancich was also in possession of the synthetic drug ketamine. It was not immediately clear if Zupancich or any of the other suspects have entered pleas. Also Thursday, 33-year-old British construction supervisor Jason Taylor was charged with cocaine possession. He could be jailed up to 10 years if convicted.

Authorities seized a total of 21.38 grams (0.75 ounces) of cocaine, 9.07 grams (0.32 ounces) of methamphetamine and 3.75 grams (0.13 ounces) of ketamine, as well as marijuana and Ecstasy from the 14 suspects, a statement from the Central Narcotics Bureau said.

Singapore has some of the world's toughest drug laws, including a mandatory death penalty for anyone caught with more than 15 grams (0.5 ounce) of heroin or more than 500 grams (17.6 ounces) of marijuana. Those convicted are hanged.

Court documents and the Central Narcotics Bureau statement named Thai woman Nipaporn Ton-sai, 28, as a drug syndicate leader and trafficker. She and her 31-year-old American boyfriend were arrested in Singapore's upscale, heavily-touristed Orchard Road shopping area in Tuesday's sting operation. Nipaporn faces up to 20 years' jail if convicted.

It was not immediately clear if the American, who was not identified in the statement, has been charged. His urine has tested positive for illegal substances, the statement said. Japanese company director Jun Terashima, 45, also among the 14, was charged Thursday with consuming methamphetamine. Some of the 14 suspects have not been charged, reports the AP.

Expat junkies, dealer, get their fix then fall into net
By Cubby Leong, TODAY One by one, they made their way to the home of the woman who headed the drug syndicate. And, one after another, the waiting Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) officers nabbed them.

A British management consultant, a construction supervisor also from Britain, a young Malaysian woman who works as a sports coach, a Japanese director, Thai prostitutes ... all of them were arrested. Some were carrying drugs, some had imbibed them.

When it was all over, the officers had rounded up the 31-year-old Thai woman who heads the drugs syndicate, her American boyfriend, as well as 12 others who came to buy cocaine, Ice, cannabis or Ecstasy from her home. The profile of these buyers showed the syndicate was catering to well-heeled expatriates.

According to the CNB, the operation kicked off just after 3pm on Monday, when the officers who had received some information about the syndicate spotted a 45-year-old British management consultant making his way to the Thai woman's Oxley Garden home.

The van carrying the Briton was stopped and cocaine and ketamine were found on board.

A procession began. A 30-year-old British director was next to arrive and when he left 20 minutes later, his vehicle, too, was stopped. A cocaine-stained packet was seized.

Another British man, together with a female Malaysian sports coach were the next to drop by. Her urine tested positive for cannabis.

Around 7.50pm, the operation was to take another twist. A 24-year-old Thai woman spotted leaving the syndicate chief's home was found to have packets of the stimulant Ice hidden in her underwear. She turned out to be a runner for another drug trafficker a 37-year-old Thai prostitute.

The raids now switched to Balestier Road where a further two male Thai prostitutes were caught for substance abuse and Telok Blangah Rise, where the 37-year-old trafficker and some clients were caught.

All this while, the woman at the heart of the Oxley Garden syndicate remained unaware that her clients were being picked up as they left her home. Finally, around 8.20pm, she and her boyfriend, an American who works as a senior operations manager, left their Oxley Garden home. They were nabbed and both tested positive for drugs.

Only the mopping-up remained and it was in the course of this that two other clients a Japanese director and a Singaporean contractor were nabbed.

While some of the clients have been let off on bail, the syndicate leader and the drug trafficker are likely to be charged today. - TODAY/sh

British gems expert linked to wrong sort of ring
Ansley Ng and Cubby Leong

BY day, he deals in gems and jewellery and is the executive director of a firm.

After midnight, he was allegedly part of a syndicate that traded drugs like cocaine, ketamine and Ecstasy pills at an apartment in a posh condominium estate in Orchard Road. Many well-heeled expatriates were among its clients.

Yesterday at the Subordinate Courts, Lionel Rudolf Zupancich was slapped with two charges under the Misuse of Drugs Act one for possessing 3.71g of ketamine and the other for trafficking 6.98g of cocaine.

The British national, 45, was said to be part of a syndicate that was flushed out during a 12-hour overnight raid on Tuesday, as reported exclusively by this newspaper.

The bust was a result of more than a month of surveillance on the condominium estate by the Central Narcotics Bureau.

Narcotics officers spotted Zupancich driving his van to the home of syndicate leader Nipaporn Ton-sai at Oxley Garden at about 3pm.

His van was intercepted and the drugs found after he had dropped off Ton-sai, a 28-year-old Thai woman, at the Golden Mile Complex.

Later in the evening, the syndicate leader, Nipaporn Ton-Sai, was arrested together with her Chinese American boyfriend in a taxi near their condominium.

Interestingly, though Ton-sai was offered bail, she could not raise the $50,000 that was demanded. Her boyfriend was not charged.

Ton-sai, using the apartment as a transaction point, was also said to have delivered drugs to her clients at their homes and at nightspots.

Among her clients was Zupancich, who moved to Singapore from Bolivia in 1998 with his family.

Born in Dover, England, of Italian parentage, the tall and balding man was said to be fluent in Spanish, Italian and French.

Along with him, officers arrested 13 other people, including two other British men, seven Thais, an American, a Japanese, a Malaysian and a Singaporean.

Yesterday, 11 were charged in court for offences including possession, consumption and trafficking.

This is the first drug bust involving expatriates and professionals since a similar cocaine bust in October last year.

Those in the dock yesterday included a Japanese director, a British construction supervisor, a Singaporean contractor and two Thai transsexual prostitutes.

Zupancich, was represented by Subhas Anandan and Sunil Sudheesan of Harry Elias Partnership.

Though he was allowed to meet Mr Sudheesan briefly yesterday, the Briton was one of three who were not granted bail by the court.

If convicted, he faces a maximum jail term of 20 years as does Ton-sai.

Ansley Ng and Cubby Leong ansley@newstoday.com.sg

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