Stealth and speed count in CNB raids

The Straits Times was able to witness a recent drug bust by the Central Narcotics Bureau in the north-west of Singapore.
It took CNB's elite Special Task Force officers less than 10 seconds to burst into the HDB flat after the strike order was given. The officers arrested a Singaporean man, 63, and found 876g of heroin, 29g of Ice and more than $87,000 in cash in the f
It took CNB's elite Special Task Force officers less than 10 seconds to burst into the HDB flat after the strike order was given. The officers arrested a Singaporean man, 63, and found 876g of heroin, 29g of Ice and more than $87,000 in cash in the flat. They also recovered 1,277g of heroin in a package that the suspect threw out of the flat. The seizure was valued at about $154,000.ST PHOTO: ZAIHAN MOHAMED YUSOF
It took CNB's elite Special Task Force officers less than 10 seconds to burst into the HDB flat after the strike order was given. The officers arrested a Singaporean man, 63, and found 876g of heroin, 29g of Ice and more than $87,000 in cash in the f
It took CNB's elite Special Task Force officers less than 10 seconds to burst into the HDB flat after the strike order was given. The officers arrested a Singaporean man, 63, and found 876g of heroin, 29g of Ice and more than $87,000 in cash in the flat. They also recovered 1,277g of heroin in a package that the suspect threw out of the flat. The seizure was valued at about $154,000. ST PHOTO: ZAIHAN MOHAMED YUSOF
Central Narcotics Bureau Special Task Force officers gearing up, one floor above a drug trafficker's HDB flat, moments before a raid.
Central Narcotics Bureau Special Task Force officers gearing up, one floor above a drug trafficker's HDB flat, moments before a raid.ST PHOTO: ZAIHAN MOHAMED YUSOF
Two officers from the Special Task Force collecting suspected drugs and placing them into an evidence bag.
Two officers from the Special Task Force collecting suspected drugs and placing them into an evidence bag.ST PHOTO: ZAIHAN MOHAMED YUSOF
A suspect getting apprehended by two Special Task Force officers as the collection of drug evidence is being done.
A suspect getting apprehended by two Special Task Force officers as the collection of drug evidence is being done.ST PHOTO: ZAIHAN MOHAMED YUSOF

Sunday Times witnesses up-close a drug raid by CNB's elite Special Task Force team

It was quiet but tense as the elite Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) team geared up for a raid, one floor above a drug trafficker's flat near Teck Whye Lane.

The men from CNB's Special Task Force (STF) were whispering to one another while putting on protective vests, sleeves and gloves.

The covert team took along door-busting equipment.

After the order was issued to strike, it took the masked STF officers less than 10 seconds to burst into the flat, taking the occupants by surprise and leaving them no time to react.

The STF had the main suspect, a 63-year-old Singaporean man who was arrested in his HDB flat, under close surveillance prior to the raid.

The Sunday Times was allowed to witness the raid up-close last Wednesday morning.

STF was formed in 1997 and the CNB, in a rare move more than a month ago, allowed ST to participate in a few training sessions.

In an interview last month, STF senior assistant director William Tan said that the men and women of the STF are constantly assessed in scenario training to keep them in top form during operations where their reaction, speed, creativity and decision-making such as on the appropriate use of force are vital.

"In terms of training, we try to be as realistic as possible. We add other elements, we plant 'family members'... You have to handle all the other people inside the house," Superintendent Tan said.

 

In last Wednesday's raid, the STF team exploited the element of surprise by barging in at the right time. It did so just as an elderly occupant who was not the main suspect returned to the unit with plastic bags of food, avoiding the need to break down the door.

A neighbour, who had been drying her hair in her living room as the raid was taking place, moved away from the door when she saw the STF officers. In the end, nobody was hurt in the raid.

The war against drug abuse and traffickers is relentless.

On Friday, CNB announced it arrested 108 people in a recent four-day, islandwide operation.

It also seized about 2.1kg of heroin, 44g of Ice, 13g of cannabis, 19 Erimin-5 tablets, 10 Ecstasy tablets and 468g of new psychoactive substances.

The suspect in the Teck Whye Lane drug bust allegedly threw drugs out of the rear window.

But undercover CNB officers were positioned below the HDB block too. The suspect was later led to the back of the block where officers found two green files, two packets containing a brown substance and papers strewn on a grassy slope.

The suspect, who was secured by two STF officers, was allowed to witness the retrieval of evidence. After a systematic search of the grass patch, the officers logged and dropped the items into evidence bags.

Despite the drama, only a handful of residents living in the block of flats were aware of the CNB operation.

The suspect was taken back to his flat where the officers continued a search of the premises.

The CNB said its officers recovered about 876g of heroin, 29g of Ice and cash amounting to more than $87,000. In its news release, the CNB also said that just before the arrest, the suspect discarded a package through the unit's window.

The package, which landed on a grass patch, was retrieved by officers and found to contain about 1,277g of heroin.

The estimated value of the seizure was about $154,000. Investigations are ongoing.

As many as 13 recent operations bore the imprint of the STF's swift and stealthy tactics.

The STF usually stays out of the media spotlight, but the CNB attributed a big drug bust to the unit on Aug 24 in which $250,000 worth of drugs were seized.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 14, 2018, with the headline 'Stealth and speed count in CNB raids'. Print Edition | Subscribe