Drugs availability not an issue despite pandemic and border closure

Since March 23, 2020 till April 30, the RBP seized 86,423 Sp+, 1211 Nitrosun, 378 Nitrazepam and 83 Corex bottles

Early this month, the Punakha police arrested two men in their early 20s and 30s who tested positive for SP+ and THC (marijuana) in a multi-drug test One was also in possession of 218 pieces of Spasmo-Proxyvon Plus capsules (SP+). However, this is not the first incident where the police in Punakha have arrested suspects with illegal drug possession. In a span of three weeks, six men were caught in possessions of SP+.

Since the detection of the first Covid-19 positive case in the country in March, Bhutan closed all border gates with effect from March 23 as a preventive measure. Districts along the border have tightened their surveillance and control measures in view of the risk of transmission of Covid-19. Round-the-clock patrolling by police forces, DeSsups (Guardians of Peace), volunteers and the army are also in place. However, figures from the Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) show that drugs are still finding their way into the country.

Since March 23, 2020 till April 30, the RBP seized 86,423 SP+, 1211 Nitrosun, 378 Nitrazepam and 83 Corex bottles from across the country.

Meanwhile, a total of 136 drug-related cases were registered in nine districts including Paro, Punakha, Chhukha, Samtse, Sarpang, Trashigang, Pemagatshel, Thimphu and Wangduephodrang. While 123 offenders were registered, out of which 180 were arrested for trafficking, and a total of 303 people were arrested in the nine districts.

Of these nine districts, Thimphu leads with 56 cases of drugs with 122 arrests, of which 55 were abusers while 57 were arrested for illegal drug trafficking. Thimphu police seized 27,031 SP+ capsules, 651 Nitrosun tablets and 26 bottles of Corex.

Chhukha district recorded 36 cases with 62 arrests out of which 15 were drug abusers while 47 were arrested for illegal drug trafficking. The district seized 45,995 SP+ capsules, 309 Nitrosun tablets and 53 bottles of Corex.

In Paro, there were 13 cases with 40 arrests out of which 20 were drug abusers and another 20 were arrested for illegal drug trafficking. Paro police seized 7,512 SP+ capsules, 141 Nitrosun tablets and two bottles of Corex.

Col Phub Gyaltshan, Officiating Deputy Chief of Crime and Operations, said that it is not 100% proved that the drugs are coming from the border but from different routes.

“We are checking the gaps while the routes are constantly monitored but still illegal transactions are taking place. Despite the porous border and strict patrolling, drugs are still being smuggled into the country but compared to drugs, tobacco smuggling is on the rise these days,” the colonel said.

Unlike earlier, the police now randomly check consignments arriving at the Mini Dry Port (MDP) in Phuenstholing and rely more on the information provided by the sources.

“We are not physically checking the consignments because the culprits take advantage of the situation and manage to smuggle them in, but we are vigilant and the cases have come down,” the colonel added.

Chencho Dema from Punakha