If there is one area where people have made the most of development in logistics, it is among those in the illegal business.
When Kuensel first reported of illegal trading of banned substances, it was done in gunny bags on the back of trucks from Shingkhar Lauri. Marijuana was a menace to the corn-growing farmers. They found people across the boarder abused it, there was money in it and didn’t know, for long, it was illegal.
For them, it was a weed, good only as Phakpa Nam (feed for pigs).
Today, it is not only the improvement in packaging. We had been flying in and out illegal substances, going by the amount police have seized. There is a racket too of smuggling in and out banned substance.
The latest is Khat, a plant species that contains cathinone. It is a controlled drug listed as psychotropic substances with no medicinal value under Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and Substance Abuse (amended) Act of Bhutan (NDPSSA) 2018.
Judging from the quantity police have seized, it appears like it had been going on for a while right under the nose of the authorities. Bhutan does not grow Khat. Many have not heard about it. Taking advantage of the courier or logistics services, Bhutan has been used as a transit or drug trafficking route.
What is more surprising, in this case, is that the goods originated in Ethiopia, Africa. Most internet-related crimes originate in Africa. This too started there with smugglers targeting gullible people and companies they find on the World Wide Web. Commissions are paid to change the origin of goods.
Given Bhutan’s reputation, most goods originating from Bhutan could easily pass as clean. It is going to change and a lot is at stake.
For the greed of money, many more could fall victims to such trafficking of goods. Courier and postal service providers, airlines and even customs are also at risk of getting implicated in global smuggling racket if we are not cautious.
The world is more connected today with technology. The way goods and services flow has changed too both for the good and bad. Many resort to ingenious methods of passing customs, police or drug regulatory agencies. Some of the goods flown in or out are not in a few grammes. They are in huge boxes weighing kilograms. How they pass the regulatory gates at airports and entry or exit points is also a question.
Both police and drug control agencies have cautioned people to refrain from exporting and importing such products. There are 19 people being questioned. With the change in how goods are delivered, there could be more people involved in such businesses.
Sources have said that the online shopping business, so convenient so far, is also suspected of engaging in delivering questionable goods. In hindsight, what is called e-commerce is more prone to such illegal activities.
Operated from homes and without the notice of authorities, such kind of trade leaves room for illegal activities. Besides, informal e-business is not helping the economy. If it is draining out money, the business is not taxed.