32 staff and patrons arrested in drug sweep at Zouk disco

A security officer checking the bag of a patron before allowing him entry into Zouk.
A security officer checking the bag of a patron before allowing him entry into Zouk. PHOTO: ST FILE

This article was first published in The Straits Times on April 2, 1995

THIRTY-TWO people including senior managers, staff and patrons of the hot and trendy nightspot, Zouk Discotheque, have been arrested in a major drug sweep on Friday.

The Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) said designer drugs such as Ecstasy pills and cocaine - both of which had never surfaced in Singapore before - were sold and consumed by some staff and patrons.

Private parties, described by the CNB as "wild", were also held there occasionally after it closed at 3 am. The CNB said drugs were distributed freely.

Among the 32 suspects arrested were nine Zouk employees and a director.

The CNB would not confirm immediately if these senior staff members were pushers or merely abusers. Drugs were found in some of their homes and some had tested positive for drugs.

These drugs included 845 g of cannabis and several hundred controlled drug tablets such as UpJohn.

Zouk's marketing manager, Mr Andrew Ing, denied in a statement last night that the club had condoned drug use.

He said: "Allegations of certain staff and customers doing so on the premises caught us by surprise and only now are we ascertaining the real story."

Mr Ing said random bag searches are made and in one case last September, two patrons found with cannabis were referred to the police. This could not be confirmed with the police.

He added that some staff members, detained by the CNB, had been suspended, and the discotheque was conducting its own investigation.

Mr Masbollah Fazal, CNB's deputy director, said the bureau first learnt of drug activity in the discotheque located in Jiak Kim Street, off River Valley Road, in September last year.

CNB officers said it was difficult to penetrate this group because only a selected few took part in the drug parties.

They said the main drug supplier was believed to be a 34-year-old unemployed man. He was arrested in his Yishun flat on Friday morning, where 800 g of cannabis was found.

Mr Masbollah said: "Although no cocaine was found, we believe the drug was abused by some staff members and distributed at the wild parties after the disco closed."

He said the suspected drug supplier had been arrested earlier in Bali on March 11. About 100 g of cocaine and 340 g of Ecstasy pills, an amphetamine, were found on him by Indonesian authorities. It was not known how he re-surfaced in Singapore.

Mr Masbollah said the CNB action was to stop a drug sub-culture operating in entertainment spots. He warned that any club found to condone drug abuse on its premises could lose its licence.

The raids on Friday occurred ironically on the day that the $8 million entertainment complex was about to celebrate its fourth anniversary.

Instead, Zouk's operating hours have been restricted to up to 10 pm instead of 3 am by the police's Public Entertainment Licencing Unit. Its management will also be asked to say why its licence should not be withdrawn.

Zouk's management said it will cooperate with the CNB, and stressed it supports its action against drugs in discotheques.