YK Poudel 

In a resolute effort to combat the alarming rise in substance abuse and in line with the vision articulated by His Majesty the King during the 115th national day, the Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) has embarked on a comprehensive crackdown on drug-related crimes. Deputy Chief of Police (DCoP), Colonel Passang Dorji, leading the charge, emphasised the need for a unified approach in creating a drug-free society.

The RBP, under the direct involvement of the Chief of Police, has bolstered its enforcement measures and established dedicated drug crackdown units in all police divisions. This intensified focus aims to curtail the growing number of individuals falling prey to drug abuse, particularly among the youth.

According to police statistics, a total of 1,702 individuals have been apprehended for criminal offenses between January and June 25 of this year, with 796 individuals arrested on drug-related charges. Among the divisions, Thimphu recorded the highest number of arrests, with 269 individuals apprehended, closely followed by Phuentsholing with 242 cases. Remarkably, Bumthang reported only a single case in the past six months.

DCoP underscored the crucial role of public support in the rigorous enforcement efforts to eradicate drug-related problems from society. He emphasised that the pervasive issue of substance abuse demands proactive monitoring from the RBP, as individuals may be reluctant to come forward and report incidents. The establishment of specialised police drug squads and heightened border surveillance has significantly enhanced the quality of community service.

Contrary to generating public fear, DCoP stressed that the police’s efforts aim to rectify criminal incidents and curb drug abuse and illicit trafficking. He highlighted the instrumental role played by the Integrated Check-Posts (ICPs) in tracking criminals and facilitating timely interventions. Furthermore, a nationwide mandatory drug test is underway, targeting professional driving licence (PDL) holders, government vehicle drivers, military personnel, and private drivers.

Police records indicate that out of 3,096 individuals tested, 107 drivers with PDL have tested positive for drugs. The positive cases include 14 taxi drivers, 31 private employees, 4 students, 36 unemployed individuals, and 22 other drivers. These alarming figures underscore the urgent need for comprehensive action.

The year 2022 witnessed the highest number of individuals involved in drug-related crimes in the past five years, with a total of 2,836 individuals arrested compared to 2,572 cases in 2021. Drug-related crimes constituted 19.9 percent of all criminal activities in 2022. Within the realm of drug offenses, substance abuse accounted for 78 percent, followed by illicit trafficking of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances at 36 percent.