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There has been a significant rise in drug abuse cases in the country, which is a worrying trend.

The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) statistics show a 30 per cent jump in drug abuse activities in the country in 2002 compared to the previous year. In the year 2002 the NCB arrested 713 people involved in drug-related activities.

"It is impossible to eradicate 100 per cent the trafficking of drugs and drug abuse totally in Brunei and not only in Brunei but even in other countries as every country in the world is facing the same problem," said the Director of NCB, Haji Momin Haji Sawal at a press conference yesterday morning.

But he quickly added that the NCB would fight the menace with determination and continue with their efforts to root out drug traffickers from the Sultanate.

The NCB director briefed the press on the progress of NCB in the year 2002 along with the heads of four different departments under the NCB -- Haji Roslan Hj Suhaili, Haji Abd Aziz Hj Othman, Jasmin Hj Jamuddin and Hajah Mardiana Hj Zainal Abidin.

He revealed that last year out of the 713 people arrested for their involvement in drug abuse activities, 629 were men, an increase of 139 people from 2001, and 84 women, an increase of 27 compared to 2001. A startling 59 per cent were first time offenders.

According to the statistics, 435 out of the total number of people arrested were unemployed, 105 people were government servants and 98 were working in the private Sector while another 55 were self-employed.

The statistics also revealed that 237 offenders were in the age group of 31 years and above, 17 were under the age of 15, 110 between 16 and 20 years and 349 between the age of 21 and 30.

According to the Hj Momin, the Ministry of Education has approached the NCB to lay out strategies to stop drug abuse among students.

A majority of those arrested last year were locals. To be precise 592 people were locals while 84 were permanent residents and 34 were foreigners. The rest were stateless.

Hj Momin said those foreigners who were arrested have been banned to enter the Sultanate for the rest of their life.

Out of the 713 people arrested 274 people went on trial and were found guilty and were sentenced accordingly. Of them 244 were men and 30 women.

The statistics further revealed that the NCB seized 317.7318 grammes of Methylamphetamine, which is a popular designer drug in Brunei.

They also seized 3.5695 grammes of Diamorphine and 1201.0500 grammes of cannabis, most of it was seized in a single raid on November 24 amounting to 900 grammes.

The NCB also seized 1322 Codeine capsules, 232 Diazepam pills, 10 ecstasy pills and 1.2500 litres of Codeine.

The bureau's motto according to Hj Momin is to have the nation free of drug abuse, show no tolerance to traffickers and to rehabilitate drug addicts.

Hj Momin, who has served the NCB more than a decade, sent out a stern warning to drug offenders especially traffickers. "NCB has no tolerance towards drug traffickers and we see the drug addicts as victims of these traffickers".

Strategies have been formulated to cut drug supplies from all corners of the Sultanate either via land, sea or air.

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