Tashi Dema

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) charged eight men from Tsento gewog in Paro for smuggling gold, robbery, aiding and abetting to robbery and solicitation of smuggling.

The case, involving 32kg of gold, which was initially smuggled from the northern borders and later to the south in 2018, was registered in Paro dzongkhag court yesterday. Eight kg of gold in the case are, however, still missing.

It was learnt that on May 21 last year, an informer reported the case to Paro police after which five men, Pema Wangchuk, Pema Wangdi, Karma Dorji, who is also known as Kaka, Chimi Rinzin and Gem Dorji were arrested. Three days later, two men, Chencho Norbu and Chencho Tshering, who is also known as Kuenzang Dorji, were arrested.

The main mastermind behind the smuggling, Dezang, who is also known as Jeso, was arrested on May 28.

Police investigation revealed that of the eight men, Pema Wangchuk, Gem Dorji and Chimi Rinzin were carriers whereas Pema Wangdi, Karma Dorji, Chencho Norbu and Chencho Tshering were robbers.

It also revealed that a friend across the northern border contacted Dezang through Wechat to deliver gold to a man in India. Dezang then asked Gem Dorji to be the carrier. Gem Dorji asked Chimi Rinzin and Pema Wangchuk. Dezang promised to pay them Nu 50,000 each.

Chimi Rinzin leaked the plan and the route to Pema Wangdi and the two planned to rob the carriers on their way back.

The three men went to northern borders and fetched 32kg of gold. While Pema Wangchuk carried 10kg, Chimi Rinzin and Gem Dorji carried 11kg of gold each. They wrapped two to three kg of gold around their body and carried the remaining in their bags.

Pema Wangdi and his friends Karma Dorji, Chencho Norbu and Chencho Tshering robbed the carriers but found only two bags containing eight and nine kg of gold at the scene.

They claimed that the two bags they found belonged to Chimi Rinzin and Pema Wangchuk and that Gem Dorji did not leave his bag of consignment when they chased him. Gem Dorji, however, claimed otherwise. He said he left it at the scene.

Of the 17kg of gold the robbers found in the two bags, they divided 3.5kg each and gave two kg of gold to Chimi Rinzin. Pema Wangdi sold another kg of gold to a man across the border, which fetched them Nu 2.8M. He gave Nu 2M to Chimi Rinzin and shared the remaining with Karma Dorji.

Chimi Rinzin and Pema Wangchuk also kept the 2kg gold wrapped around their body.

While police seized seven kg of gold and Nu 1 million from the suspects, they sold off the gold across the border for prices ranging from Nu 1.5M to 2.8M a kg. Police also impounded a Prado and Hilux.

OAG charged Dezang for solicitation of smuggling as per section 126 of the Penal Code of Bhutan. The crime is graded a third-degree felony.

Gem Dorji was charged for two counts of smuggling as per section 279 of the Penal Code. The crime is graded as per the value.

Chimi Rinzin was also charged for smuggling, aiding and abetting the robbery.

Pema Wangchuk was charged for smuggling, whereas Pema Wangdi was charged for two counts of smuggling and robbery.

Karma Dorji, Chencho Norbu and Chencho Tshering were charged for smuggling and robbery.