Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) has registered 192 of drugs and tobacco related cases, which includes abusing, illicit trafficking and illegal possession since March when the first COVID-19 case was reported.
A maximum number of cases took place along the border, whereby some people crossed the border illegally to get the substances. Some of the people exchanged the substances by taking advantage of the porous border, and some had a pick up and drop services along the border.
RBP arrested 985 people in connection to 192 cases, and those people who have crossed the border, and those with direct contact with the people from across the border were immediately quarantined. In total, four dzongkhags (Samtse, Phuentsholing- Chukha, Sarpang and Samdrupjongkhar) have quarantined 25 people including 5 women in the drugs and smuggling of tobacco products cases. One woman involved in an alcohol business across the border was arrested in Samtse, and she was placed under quarantine, along with all her secondary contacts placed in home quarantine.
Thimphu police has registered 140 cases and arrested 336 (47 females and 289 males) people in connection drugs cases.
Highlighting a few cases, the Phuentsholing police arrested two brothers from Tshendona, Paro, who had in their possession 22, 245 capsules of SP+ and 300 plus tablets of N10, 24 April at around 3:30 am from the Rinchending checkpost.
Phuentsholing police also arrested a 44-year-old man from Tsirang who had 7, 040 capsules of SP+ on him on 29 March. Likewise, on 13 April, the Paro police arrested a 28-year-old man from Dagana and seized 7, 065 capsules of SP+ from him. Almost 95 percent of the cases were charge sheeted to court, and the respective courts have pronounced their convictions.
RBP said that, on their part, they will continue with its enhanced vigilance and monitoring to ensure that irresponsible actions of some unscrupulous people do not undermine the nation’s collective effort in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, an official from RBP said that drug related cases are always challenging and bringing down such cases would be impossible without the support of the public, the government, the private sector and other agencies.
Curbing down on such crime is not a sole responsibility of the RBP, he said, adding that only arresting and convicting people will not solve the issue.
He said, “To curb down on the drug related crimes in the country, we have to see the supply and demand of the drugs. On the supply front, we cannot ask the manufacturers to stop producing drugs, anywhere in the world, and therefore, we can do the least on the supply front. However, we can play a role in demand front.”
He said everyone must put in the effort to make every citizen non-drug dependent, and this is something doable if everyone comes together. Law enforcement agencies must advocate and educate the people on laws related to drugs, sentencing, risk and consequences of committing such crimes.
“People are not aware of the larger picture. They know they will get convicted, but they do not realize the consequences of getting the conviction. So this is where we can make them understand and stop them from doing it,” he added.
Drug-related crimes rank amongst the top five highest crimes, he said, and the other top four crimes take place due to a person being high on drugs and alcohol. Therefore, he said that to make the country drug free, a person has to be drug free and the community has to be drug free.