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  1. Alfa
    SINGAPORE'S COCAINE CIRCLE

    They Tend To Meet While Doing Business Or At Social Gatherings

    THE cocaine-snorting circle in Singapore appears to be a small and tightly
    knit group.

    Its members are quite distinct from hardcore heroin addicts and yuppie
    party drug abusers, in that they tend to meet while doing business or at
    social gatherings, and will introduce each other to the drug as well as the
    syndicate selling it.

    However, sources said these people usually use the drugs for personal
    consumption. They don't dish it out at private parties.

    Most consume the coke in the privacy of their homes, although some take it
    just before they hit the pubs in their flashy sports cars or luxury sedans.

    Among the 23 people arrested in a swoop on a suspected cocaine trafficking
    ring this week, 16 were Singaporeans, two permanent residents and five
    foreigners.

    Tunisian Guiga Lyes Ben Laroussi, 35, marketing manager at Bobby Rubino's
    restaurant, is the alleged link-man of the syndicate.

    Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) officers had been tailing Laroussi for the
    past two months and had spotted him on several occasions meeting suspected
    drug addicts outside pubs in popular nightspot areas such as Mohamed Sultan.

    Bobby Rubino's owner, Mr Jimmy Hsiao, said Laroussi had called in on
    Wednesday, the day before his arrest, to ask for a few days off as his
    girlfriend's family was visiting from Malaysia.

    Mr Hsiao said Laroussi had started work at the restaurant about four months
    ago but had worked in Singapore before and 'knew a lot of expats here'.

    According to CNB records, the last time an expatriate was arrested for
    trafficking drugs here was way back in 1991 when Dutchman Johannes van
    Damme was caught with 4.3kg of heroin at the Changi Airport. He was hanged.

    Another expat who was arrested is Briton Nigel Bruce Simmonds, 35, a writer
    at The Expat Magazine before he became Tatler bureau chief in April and
    editor of Singapore Tatler, a high-society magazine.

    He is married to a Japanese woman, who recently gave birth to a daughter.

    Staff at the magazine were waiting yesterday morning for Simmonds to show
    up for a meeting with the magazine's managing director Andrew Thomas to
    discuss stories for the next issue.

    The meeting started without Simmonds and ended two hours later, with him
    still absent.

    One of his friends said: 'Nigel comes in late to work at times, but when
    the meeting ended and he still hadn't shown up, we started getting worried.'

    His mobile phone was switched off.

    When told the news, Mr Thomas declined to comment until he has a 'clearer
    picture of the situation'.

    Like Simmonds, award-winning French chef Francois Fabien Mermilliod, 29,
    has been charged with possessing drugs. He was mentioned in a recent issue
    of the Tatler.

    He worked in several restaurants here such as Au Petit Salut and Duo
    Restaurant, before he joined Flutes At The Fort, a fusion restaurant in
    Fort Canning.

    Mermilliod, who recently received a culinary award from the World Gourmet
    Summit, 'went missing' after lunch hour on Thursday and did not return,
    said his colleagues.

    His wife called the restaurant to say he was sick.

    Although few expatriates have been arrested for drug consumption in
    Singapore, CNB deputy director S. Vijakumar issued a strong warning to the
    community.

    'We do not go easy on our enforcement on drugs. We will spare no community
    that gets involved,' he said.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Charged with drug trafficking

    Singaporean Marx Oh Chee Wee, 31, director of events company Zero Event
    Concepts, was arrested at his house in Hyde Park Gate in Seletar. Allegedly
    had 2.3g of cocaine and 23.6g of cannabis.

    Tunisian Guiga Lyes Ben Laroussi, 35, marketing manager of restaurant Bobby
    Rubino's, was arrested at his apartment in Moulmein Green condominium;
    61.2g of cocaine, 5.4g of ketamine, 2.6g of Ice, 1.3g of cannabis and 32
    Ecstasy tablets allegedly found in his apartment.

    Singaporean Mariana Abdullah, 24, unemployed, arrested at Laroussi's apartment.

    Charged with possession of drugs

    Briton Nigel Bruce Simmonds, 35, editor of Singapore Tatler, arrested at
    Thomson Road. Allegedly had 0.8g of Ice.

    Frenchman Francois Fabien Mermilliod (right), 29, chef at Flutes at the
    Fort restaurant, arrested along Keng Lee Road. Allegedly had 0.5g of
    cocaine with him.

    Sri Lankan Jeremy Mahen Chanmugam, 40, director of Zero Event Concepts,
    arrested in his house at Hyde Park Gate in Seletar. Allegedly had 1g of
    cannabis and a replica pistol.

    Singaporean Hamden Mohd, 35, technician, nabbed along Norfolk Road,
    allegedly had 20 Ecstasy tablets.

    Singaporean Andy Ng Kwang Thiam, 23, director of local shipping company Ng
    Teow Yhee. Officers allegedly found 1.7g of Ice and 3.2g of cannabis in his
    Audi.

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