The officials of Bhutan Narcotic Control Agency (BNCA), Royal Bhutan police (RBP) Customs and Royal Safety and Transport Authority (RSTA) in a jointl surprise inspection on 22 March this year seized large quantities of numerous banned substances.
Fines and penalties were also imposed on the defaulters.
According to a BNCA news release, the inspection was aimed at ensuring public compliance for NDPSSA Act 2005 and the Tobacco Control Act 2010 and also to create public awareness on the prevention of illicit trafficking of controlled substances.
In the one-day surprise inspection carried out by the authorities starting from 10 am in the morning till 5:30 pm in the evening officials were delegated to locations in different highways such as Kamichu and Damchu.
Vehicles plying along Phuntsholing, Paro, Punakha and Wangduephodrang highways were stopped and inspected mainly to assess and intercept illicit trafficking of Narcotic drug, psychotropic substances and tobacco products.
The news release says a team of officials were deployed in Kamichu for inspecting vehicles coming from Gelephu and Sarpang headed to different destinations particularly Punakha and Wangdue while another set of officials were stationed at Damchu for inspecting vehicles coming from Phuntsholing and bound for Thimphu, Paro, Punakha and Wangdue Phodrang.
In addition, the officials at Damchu were assisted by one canine sniffer dog from the RBP to detect Narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and tobacco products.
Stopping all vehicles such as public transports like passenger buses, taxis and also private light-vehicles, the officials at different locations conducted a thorough inspection of baggage that came inside the vehicles. But the inspection of loaded trucks could not be done. This according to the officials was not possible due to lack of proper loading and unloading facilities. Lack of manpower and limited time was also attributed to exclusion of the heavy vehicles for inspection.
The offences detected on the day were mostly smuggling of tobacco products which lead to imposition of fines. The smuggled products were seized on the spot. One of the traffickers was also charge-sheeted to court by Wangduephodrang police.
At the end of the day, officials collected fines amounting to Nu 119,000 from fines imposed of Nu 500 in each incident to smokers caught in non-smoking areas and Nu 10,000 each to those bringing in permissible type of tobacco products.
The inspection team detected 11 incidents of people smoking in non-smoking areas, the fines imposed of which amounted to Nu 5,500 and two incidents of permissible type of tobacco products being brought in, collecting fines of Nu 20,000. In total, the Kamichu inspection team collected Nu 25, 500.
While the team in Damchu collected Nu 23,500 after having apprehended 47 people smoking in non-designated areas. In addition, they also detected seven cases of ‘permissible type of tobacco’ carriers, resulting in collection of Nu 70,000 as fine imposed. In total, Nu 93,500 was collected.
The BNCA release stated such inspections will be carried out in other places from time to time and the provision of the Acts will be imposed firmly. “No one will be excused,” said one of the BNCA officials.
The BNCA and its stakeholders in the news release appealed to the general public to refrain from indulging in such illicit activities. They stressed that trafficking of controlled substances is against the provision of the existing laws. Therefore, related prosecution and penalties are better avoided by not coming in conflict with the law.
“As community of a small country, BNCA expects that all responsible citizens to respect the well being of others as much as we respect and care for the well being of those near and dear to us,” stated the release.