Briton charged with cocaine trafficking in Singapore

Singapore charged a British man with cocaine trafficking Thursday after arresting him along with 12 other foreigners and a Singaporean in an anti-drug operation this week, officials said. Management consultant Lionel Rudolf Zupancich, 45, faces up to 20 years in jail and 15 strokes of the cane if found guilty of trafficking in about 7 grams (0.25 ounces) of cocaine, court documents sent to The Associated Press showed.

Two other British people as well as seven Thais, a Malaysian, a Japanese, an American and a Singaporean were also arrested in a sting operation Tuesday. The arrests came days after Singapore's execution of convicted Australian heroin trafficker Nguyen Tuong Van drew outrage from Australia's government, and raised international appeals for the tightly controlled city-state to end its mandatory death penalty for those caught trafficking in certain amounts of some drugs, including heroin and marijuana.

Singapore investigators say Zupancich was also in possession of the synthetic drug ketamine. It was not immediately clear if Zupancich or any of the other suspects have entered pleas. Also Thursday, 33-year-old British construction supervisor Jason Taylor was charged with cocaine possession. He could be jailed up to 10 years if convicted. Authorities seized a total of 21.38 grams (0.75 ounces) of cocaine, 9.07 grams (0.32 ounces) of methamphetamine and 3.75 grams (0.13 ounces) of ketamine, as well as marijuana and Ecstasy from the 14 suspects, a statement from the Central Narcotics Bureau said. Singapore has some of the world's toughest drug laws, including a mandatory death penalty for anyone caught with more than 15 grams (0.5 ounce) of heroin or more than 500 grams (17.6 ounces) of marijuana. Those convicted are hanged.

Court documents and the Central Narcotics Bureau statement named Thai woman Nipaporn Ton-sai, 28, as a drug syndicate leader and trafficker. She and her 31-year-old American boyfriend were arrested in Singapore's upscale, heavily-touristed Orchard Road shopping area in Tuesday's sting operation. Nipaporn faces up to 20 years' jail if convicted.

It was not immediately clear if the American, who was not identified in the statement, has been charged. His urine has tested positive for illegal substances, the statement said. Japanese company director Jun Terashima, 45, also among the 14, was charged Thursday with consuming methamphetamine. Some of the 14 suspects have not been charged, reports the AP. I.L.

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