BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Drug syndicates are using new techniques to smuggle illicit substances into Brunei, the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) said Tuesday, by concealing the drugs inside tea packets and sending it through the postal service.

Speaking during a meeting with Malaysian counterparts yesterday, NCB’s acting director Hj Mohd Jaffari Hj Mahadi said the agency had intercepted a parcel last month believed to contain khat leaves, a plant which produces psychotropic effects of mild euphoria when consumed.

“NCB also recently discovered a new drug smuggling technique where drugs have been concealed in tea packets in two separate incidents. I believe that this technique has also been used in Malaysia,” he said.

Although chewing khat leaves is a traditional activity in many Arab and North African countries, its sale and distribution is controlled or illegal in many countries including Brunei. Khat leaves were added to the list of banned substances in February last year.

Further details of the case were not disclosed to media, with NCB saying the matter is still under investigation. 

Drug smugglers may take advantage of new Temburong Bridge

The NCB director added that the opening of the Temburong Bridge — slated for early 2020 — will present greater challenges in terms of controlling the entry of drugs into Brunei. 

Various news reports have detailed how drugs are smuggled into Brunei between the borders of Brunei, Sabah and Sarawak — over land as well as the via boat through the interconnecting rivers. 

The NCB hosted a meeting with Malaysia’s Narcotic Crimes Investigation Department (JSJN)  in Bandar Seri Begawan yesterday — the first high-level meeting since 2015. 

Hj Mohd Jaffari stressed the importance of regular exchange between the Brunei and Malaysian narcotics agencies to stem the flow of drugs across shared borders.

In response, Director of Malaysia’s Narcotic Crimes Investigation Department, CP Datuk Mohd Khalil Kader Mohd, said that JSJN is committed to working with NCB to develop more comprehensive anti-drug strategies. 

“We need to come up with a new strategy to address the growing problem of drugs. JSJN will not allow Malaysia to become a drug hub by international syndicates,” he said. 

Datuk Mohd Khalil shared that JSJN will launch large-scale operations targeting drug kingpins both domestically and internationally.

The next step, he added, was to target drug addicts in ports across Malaysia, as well as street pushers.

The bilateral meeting between NCB and JSJN is aimed at sharing the current situation and drug trends in both Brunei and Malaysia, and the legal provisions related to the eradication of drug abuse and trafficking.