Drug abuse still a concern

tableA review of seized drugs compiled with the Narcotics Drug Law Enforcement Unit (NDLEU) of Thimphu police indicates an increase in the usage of controlled substance, especially Pharmaceutical drugs in the capital over a span of two years.

Last year 1545.3 grams of marijuana was seized while this year as of 26 December 324.5 grams was seized. And 275.25 grams of marijuana hashish was collected last year while this year 212.66 grams was seized as of 26 December.

The situation is changing as the seized Pharmaceutical drugs is comparatively higher compared to Marijuana.

The number of arrests made in connection with the illegal transaction of controlled substance was 16, last year and 12 were arrested this year.

Last year 295 people were detained for possession of controlled substance while this year 270 persons were detained.

The Officer in-charge of NDLEU said whether there is increase or decrease in the number, he cannot comment now as there is one more week till year’s end. Even within the span of a week the number might increase.

Citing an example, the officer said that in one go 14 people were arrested for possession of controlled substances.

People have invented various modes to conceal drugs, like concealing on the body and under the spare tyres, packed in personal luggage bags, sent as parcels in the bus or trucks carrying construction materials. Drugs are also concealed with vegetables.

These days, people have come up with new ideas to trick police personnel at the checkpoints. The suspects or smugglers wrap the drugs in parcels addressed to officers in the armed forces while women, they place it inside their bras.

According to the police, almost 70% of drugs are smuggled into Thimphu from Phuentsholing as parcels.  What they do is transfer the said amount from Thimphu into supplier’s account in Phuentsholing who then send drugs as parcels in trucks especially those which transport construction materials which are difficult to search. Some get lucky to receive the parcels while many get arrested by the police.

Despite putting in place various kind of awareness campaign on drug abuse, strict inspection at checkpoints on the highways and borders, drugs still make their way into Bhutan.

The concerned authorities fear that drug use will continue as long as there are no effective control mechanisms at the checkpoints of the border areas.

Meanwhile after the amendment of the most controversial Tobacco Control Act, NDLEU, under Thimphu Police station has arrested 21 people in connection to tobacco smuggling as of 26 December while seven arrests were made before the amendment came into effect.

From the capital city Thimphu, 17 people were arrested in connection to smuggling of tobacco in 2011 while this year it was 28 people.

The first arrested for smuggling tobacco was a 25 year old from Samdrup Jongkhar who was found in possession of four packets of Flake cigarettes on 20 January. This was followed by a 23 year old monk from Haa on 24 January who was arrested for carrying four bundles of chewing tobacco (Baba).

The youngest suspect caught so far was a 16 year old from Dagana who was caught on 10 March while the oldest is a 81 year old also from Dagana and he was caught on 18 August with 50 packets of chewing tobacco.

The suspects or smugglers rounded up by the authorities comprise people from different classes of society. Some are drivers, monks and students while there are also those who are civil servants and personnel from the armed forces.

Going by the figures compiled by the Royal Bhutan Police (RBP), suspects are more into smuggling of chewing tobacco (Baba) than cigarettes (Navy cut Wills).

Chencho Dema / Thimphu

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2 comments

  1. Dr.David L. Luechauer

    As I noted in one of the early interviews, our alcohol study indicated that the storm cloud is cloud of drug use was forming on the horizon.  This is only the tip of the iceberg.  Generally speaking, under the best of conditions, the police or  other government agencies enforcing drug laws catch about 5-10% of that which actually enters the country.  Reading this story made me recall the powerful remarks of HRM when he admonished the GCBS faculty that  “Bhutan can’t afford to create or inherit 1st world problems and solve them with 3rd world resources…..” !  I sincerely hope that come election time the people of Bhutan will consider supporting candidates want to roll up their sleeves and get to work on the home front instead of  promulgating economic propaganda (GNH), espousing empty rhetoric, and chasing fanciful illusions of grandeur. As the recent tragedies in my own country reveal, leaders need to take care of their own before they can even hope to take care of others.  Let’s hope all our leaders learn this powerful lesson.

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