BE­HIND FLASH­ING LIGHTS

New Straits Times - - News -

sit­ting in cor­ners, lost in their weed-fu­elled rev­elry.

With plenty of drug ped­dlers pro­vid­ing a steady diet of stim­u­lants to club­bers, the mul­ti­mil­lion-ring­git drug busi­ness here is kept as lively as Pe­nang’s nightlife it­self.

But who are th­ese drug ped­dlers?

Ac­cord­ing to one par­ty­goer and busi­ness­man, who wished to be known only as “Prem Ku­mar”, they could be a bar­tender, an ac­quain­tance or a friend.

“(You can find) ran­dom strangers sit­ting in the cor­ners of dingy clubs, of­fer­ing drugs,” he told the New Sun­day Times ata club here.

He said drug ped­dlers were usu­ally not ad­dicts them­selves, but were in the busi­ness for the money.

“They usu­ally start out small, with a small batch of drugs, like am­phet­a­mine tablets or Erimin 5, (sell­ing to just) a few peo­ple, but even­tu­ally, they ex­pand their cus­tomer base. It is easy for them to get busi­ness as their reg­u­lars often also turn into petty drug ped­dlers sell­ing to their friends.”

Prem said reg­u­lar drug con­sumers tended to carry their stash to clubs or par­ties to con­sume on their own, or share with friends.

“As soon as the friend is ad­dicted, the reg­u­lar would be­come the sup­plier to the friend, mark­ing up the price to m a k e a n i ncome.”

Prem said this made for a big group of drug ped­dlers out on the streets of Pe­nang. “There are so many ped­dlers sell­ing ev­ery­thing — weed, co­caine, am­phet­a­mine, metham­phetamine, ke­tamine, Erimin 5 and a whole plethora of other drugs. The price varies de­pend­ing on the quan­tity and qual­ity. For ex­am­ple, metham­phetamine, for one smoker, would cost about RM100.”

Prem said drug ped­dlers would usu­ally meet their cus­tomers out­side clubs, es­pe­cially in outof-the-way, re­mote ar­eas, far from pry­ing eyes.

“They will meet you at a park, a park­ing lot or even your house, to pass you the drugs, so long as it’s not a place with many peo­ple.

“In the case of drugs in the form of pills, drug ped­dlers would wrap them in tis­sue pa­per and pass them to their cus­tomers dis­creetly at clubs or pubs,” he said.

How­ever, the gen­eral rule of thumb is that ped­dlers avoided pub­lic ar­eas, es­pe­cially when sell­ing to strangers.

Prem said the big­gest form of drug dis­tri­bu­tion was via peers.

“An ad­dict takes the drugs to a pri­vate party or a club, where he shares his stash with friends, telling them how won­der­ful the drugs made him feel.

“Soon, the friends want to try the drugs, as­sum­ing they would be harm­less, and be­fore they know it, they are ad­dicted to them.”

An­other par­ty­goer, who wished to re­main anony­mous, said the easy avail­abil­ity of “party drugs” was an open se­cret here.

“We all know how easy it is to get th­ese drugs, and that is rather scary. If you are a girl par­ty­ing the night away, you have to be dou­bly care­ful be­cause some peo­ple could spike your drinks with drugs just for fun, or to take ad­van­tage of you.”

She said a com­mon mis­con­cep­tion was that all ped­dlers were men, when, in some cases, they were women.

The par­ty­goer, who works as a model, said to some women, drugs, such as am­phet­a­mine and metham­phetamine, were de­sir­able, as they helped them to main­tain their weight.

“Once you con­sume th­ese drugs, you are no longer hun­gry or sleepy, and you have all this en­ergy. Some mod­els take drugs to main­tain their weight,” she said, not­ing that there were many peo­ple out there to pro­vide a steady sup­ply.

State nar­cotics chief Su­per­in­ten­dent Maidu Abu Bakar said po­lice were aware of the high num­ber of drug push­ers on the streets. How­ever, he said, they had made nu­mer­ous ar­rests over the years to elim­i­nate ped­dlers.

“Drug push­ers are nearly im­pos­si­ble to elim­i­nate be­cause there are many pop­ping up to re­place those who were ar­rested.

“This is also why we need the pub­lic’s help in giv­ing us in­for­ma­tion about them,” he said.

Maidu added that in the case of de­tained push­ers on whom the po­lice did not have suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence to charge un­der the Dan­ger­ous Drugs Act 1952, the Dan­ger­ous Drugs (Spe­cial Pre­ven­tive Mea­sures) Act 1985 was ap­plied.

In other words, the law will get them in the end. That is, if the drugs don’t do it first. Pa­hang Health Com­mit­tee chair­man Datuk Norol Azali Su­laiman (stand­ing, sixth from right) with some of the 84 stu­dents who won awards dur­ing the na­tional-level Math­e­mat­ics and Science Olympiad at the In­ter­na­tional Is­lamic Univer­sity of Malaysia in Kuan­tan, yes­ter­day. With them is Ga­gasan pres­i­dent Datuk Seri Fadil­lah Yu­sof (stand­ing, sev­enth from right), who is also works min­is­ter. PIC BY MUHAM­MAD ASYRAF SAWAL

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