A sniffer dog

As Drug cases keep going up RBP says more important to address demand reduction

In 2021, the Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) recorded 293 drugs related cases from across the country. As of June 2022, a total of 169 drug related cases, which is more than half of the case reported in the whole year of 2021, have been registered with RBP. 

As per the statistics from RBP, of the total case registered in 2022, Thimphu has always contributed the highest numbers, with 92 cases, followed by Chukha with 24 cases, and Paro with 13 cases.

Case wise, the highest is the illicit trafficking of narcotics drugs and psychotropic substances with 55 cases in 2021 and 32 cases in 2022, so far. RBP has apprehended 206 abusers in 2021 of which 4 are minors, and 130 abusers were apprehended in the first half of 2022.

In addition, the criminal attempt to illicit trafficking of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances in 2021 stands at 2, while there is just one case so far in 2022. Likewise, the cases on illegal possession of cannabis and its derivatives, illegal possession of narcotics drugs and psychotropic substances and illicit trafficking of cannabis and its derivatives are very minimal.

The Deputy Chief of Police of Crime and Operation, Colonel Passang Dorji, emphasized the need for the government and relevant agencies to come together and conduct a study on demand reduction, and on why people are into such businesses or why the minors are into drugs?

“It has become so important for all of us to find the main root cause on why people are getting into drugs. We see many traffickers coming up and many drugs are coming in, which indicates an increase in number of drug users. More the demand, more the suppliers.”

The traffickers here in Bhutan are just the carriers, wherein, the real traffickers are sitting across the border and sending their consignments in packages to the carriers.

This has been happening for quite long, Colonel Passang Dorji said, and therefore, the concerned agencies and the government can find out, why there is an increase in number of traffickers and demand of drugs in the country?

“There are so many social issues here. Unemployment can be one possible reason because to fill up their stomach, they get into such businesses, which is easy money kind of business. They do not realize the consequences it can have on them, if caught. So, we must educate them,” he further added.

The youth are using drugs as a copping mechanism, and that is when the demand of drugs increases. The traffickers have become so smart that they started sending in the consignment in the name of high-level officials, as their modus operandi.

RBP is trying its best to monitor and reduce the demand for drugs and advocate on the preventive measures, but eventually, it is everyone’s role and responsibility to address the drug issues in the country, he added.

Meanwhile, he said, “Our mandate is to investigate the case, control the supply and track down the traffickers. The case, in near future, may or may not increase and it will solely depend upon the law enforcement agencies and the system in place.”

He said that as long as all the agencies are forth coming and pro-active, things may not go out of hand, but if they remain silent and unreactive, such cases will continue to grow, whereby a time might come when it gets out of control.

Currently, there are many stakeholders involved in drug related issues, but they fail to function independently, as they rely on each other, assuming that one among them will take the initiative in tackling the issue, he added.

That is how RBP gets overburdened with the cases, not realizing that each agency can play a role and take its responsibility in addressing the issue, including Dzongkhags and LG leaders.

He further said, “If each agency takes their share of responsibility, we (RBP) can focus more on prevention part, and in investigating the cases. We are also working on demand reduction and soon we will resume our highway and border checking. We will do everything within our capacity to reduce the crime.”

One issue is that RBP faces a shortage of vehicles due to the budget constraint and fueling expenses that are proving to be more challenging.

As of June 2022 RBP has seized 62,013 capsules of SP+, 1,085 tablets of N10, 1.8 kgs of cannabis, 3 liters of thinner, 1 gram or brown sugar and 37 bottles of Corex.

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