Saturday, March 04, 2006

They shoot drugs in front of my little girl

The Electric New Paper News

THESE drug addicts are so brazen.

They don't care who sees them openly shooting up along the corridors.

So residents at Block 204, Tampines Street 21 have to tiptoe around them. Some feel like they are being held hostage in their own flats.

This has been going on for more than a year, alleged some residents.

And what's much worse - they don't care how they dump their used syringes.

Tossed syringes have landed on the grass verge in front of the block - a danger to unsuspecting passers-by.

Some children from Yumin Primary School cross the grass patch to get to their school, which is just across the road. Behind the block is a childcare centre.

Residents are fed up.

One family living in the block claimed they took a syringe they found outside their flat to a nearby neighbourhood police post (NPP).

A member of the family, Ms Tan KH, later wrote to The New Paper. (See an extract of her letter on the next page.)

Police have been monitoring the situation at the block and have also conducted checks during their patrols. So far, a total of seven suspects have been arrested for drug-related activities.

Just how bad is the situation?

The drug abusers mostly go to the top storey of one section of the block, where all four units are vacant.

The New Paper team spotted two men there using syringes to inject a solution into their arms. We walked by with a concealed camera.

But they didn't even bother to hide.

The two men in their 40s waved their syringes in the air, greeting us with big smiles.

They said they were using Dormicum and Subutex, two prescription drugs some addicts take as a replacement for heroin.

As they spoke, they dipped their syringes in a metal mug containing what they said was a mix of the two drugs and water.

Once the syringes were filled, they nonchalantly plunged the needles into their exposed arms, right in front of us. One of them missed his mark and drew out blood instead.

When he pulled out the syringe, blood sprayed onto the wall.

The other, who gave his age as 43, said: 'After I take, I just relax, sleep here until 2 or 3am. Here it's quiet and cool. No one stays here so we can do our thing.'

One addict said he works part-time to pay for his habit. His job earns him $25 a day.

He added: 'One Subutex pill costs $50 and together with the Dormicum and syringe. Getting high each time costs more than $60.'

Residents said there were also women among the addicts. They had no qualms about shooting up any time of the day or night.

Some of them hid their used syringes behind water pipes and electrical fittings. The New Paper found two syringes at these spots.


The block, an 11-storey building with about 80 units, is made up of one- to three-room rental flats.

A number of units are vacant.

None of the residents we spoke to wanted to be identified. Some of them are retirees who are looking after their grandchildren.

They said the addicts have largely left them alone, though footwear and potted plants have sometimes gone missing.

They said they are afraid that if their pictures or names appear in print, the addicts will harass them.

The residents said they take precautionary measures.

They don't allow their children to play along the corridor.

None of the six families The New Paper spoke to would allow women and children to return home on their own.

One resident with a young daughter of primary school age said in Malay: 'Once my daughter came home by herself and these men were injecting themselves on the stairs just outside the lift. What if they were high?

'I fear for my daughter.'

Said another resident who has been living there for more than 10 years: 'For the past 10 months, these people have been coming here to take drugs almost every day. There are men and women of different races.

'You know who they are because no one else goes to the 11th floor.'

Another resident, who has lived there for 20 years, said Block 204 used to be peaceful and safe until the addicts appeared.

'I never leave my grille unlocked and I don't let my three young grandchildren out at all,' she said.

She also repeatedly asked us to be careful while walking around the block.


The six families all said they had alerted the police on several occasions, but the addicts were clever. Often they played a game of hide-and-seek.

The residents are now saying enough is enough.

One resident, who looks after three grandchildren at his flat, said: 'They throw the syringes over the ledge.

'I would hate for someone to be walking along downstairs and be struck by the needles.'

Besides several used syringes, The New Paper also found empty Subutex and Dormicum blister packs on the grass verge at the foot of the block.

He added: 'If you see anyone sitting downstairs at night, it's definitely not a resident, but addicts waiting for each other before going upstairs.

'It's very sad, because many people have been living in this block for a long time and it is of sentimental value to us. We have never felt unsafe until recently.'


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