JASIN: A National Anti-Drugs Agency operation to screen suspected drug addicts in Kampung Serkam Pantai here early yesterday morning turned ugly when more than 100 villagers tried to stop youths from being picked up for urine tests.
At 1am, about 20 officers accompanied by several Rela members swooped in on several youths loitering at a suspected drug haunt in the village.
The officers questioned some 10 youths, in their early 20s, and demanded to see their identity cards.
However, a commotion broke out when they were asked to board a truck to take them to the agencys office in Ayer Keroh to undergo urine tests.
An argument ensued and before long a large group of villagers joined in the commotion.
The tension was defused when Serkam state assemblyman Ghazale Mohamad arrived to calm the situation.
State agency director Ibrahim Bujang said the operation had been set up following reports from the villagers that drug addiction could be a problem among youths in the village.
We carried out surveillance here for a month and identified four areas in the village used by suspected drugs addicts.
We picked up 26 youths, aged between 20 and 35, for urine tests but none of them tested positive for drug abuse, he told reporters after the operations ended at about 2am.
As to the fiasco at the village, he said it was a misunderstanding because the villagers were unaware the agency was empowered under the National Anti-Drugs Agency Act 2004 (which came into effect in 2007) and the Drug Dependants (Treatment and Rehabilitation) Act 1983 to pick up suspected drug addicts for urine tests.
Although no suspect tested positive, Ibrahim did not regard the operation as a failure.
What is important is that we get the message across to the public, especially villagers here, that we have the power to act and will continue to monitor their activities, he added.
In the last six months, the agency picked up 78 drugs addicts from Serkam and its surrounding villages, he said, adding that to date 62 from Serkam had been charged with drug-related offences.
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