Crime: A support staff of the Drug Regulatory Authority (DRA) is among the three men police arrested between October 23 to 27 for smuggling controlled narcotic and psychotropic substances into the country.

The first incident occurred on October 23 where the DRA staff was caught with 5,020 capsules of Spasmoproxyvon, six bottles of Corex and 15 grams of marijuana at Tsimatsham, Chukha.

Police said that the 36-year-old staff accompanied by his friend was on his way back to Thimphu from Phuentsholing in a taxi. After he came to know about the highway checking, police said the staff got off the taxi with the consignment while his friend stayed back.

“As he was walking in Tsimatsham town, he called his friend to find out if the highway checking was done,” the superintendent of police of narcotic division Lt. Colonel Sonam Goenzing said.

A constable in plain clothes overheard him after which the police team was informed. However, police said that the friend and the taxi driver absconded.

On October 25, a sports instructor with one of the central schools was caught at Rinchending check post in Phuentsholing with 126 capsules of Spasmoproxyvon, 10 tablets of Nitrosun and 25 grams of marijuana.

Police said the man, 28, had concealed the consignment in his underwear.

The last of the arrestees was an Indian drug supplier from Phuentsholing. Police said that the Indian national, 24, was found carrying 1,736 Spasmoproxyvon, 16 bottles of Corex and 199 tablets of Nitrosun.

A driver by profession, police said the Indian national is one of the main suppliers from Jaigaon. He was arrested from the junction on the way to the old Phuentsholing hospital.

On interrogation, police said he confessed that he bought the consignment from a dealer in Jaigaon paying INR 5,000 advance. The consignment, he told police, was worth Nu 200,000 in Bhutan.

Narcotic division officials said that drugs are usually smuggled late at night. Although combating the rising issue of drugs is a challenge, police officials said that they are determined to fight.

Since the police began a major crackdown on drugs since December 2, 2013, about 1,373 persons were arrested as of October 23 this year. Of the total, 789 are aged below 24.

Records with police also state that of the total arrests until October 23, 191 were students followed by 97 government and corporate employees. The rest, 1,085 were either unemployed, farmers or into private businesses.

Although the amended Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and Substance Abuse Act (NDPSSA) 2015 comes with stricter penalties on smugglers, smuggling case has not dropped.

The amended Act was enforced since July 20. Since then, 122 persons were arrested in about three months across the country.

Police chief Brigadier Kipchu Namgyal urged people to not indulge in drugs trafficking or abuse. “The police is deeply concerned by the increasing number of people abusing and smuggling drugs,” he said.

As much as police is concerned about the issue, Brigadier Kipchu Namgyal said, police would continue its drug crackdown operation. “We will continue the highway checking from the border areas to the internal districts,” he said. “We request abusers and traffickers to refrain from indulging in such acts and respect the law.”

Brigadier Kipchu Namgyal also said that as per the amended NDPSSA Act, people caught carrying more than 10 tablets or capsules is a non-compoundable offense of felony.

Quick money

Bhutan Narcotic Control Agency’s (BNCA) director general Phuntsho Wangdi said that the rising number of drug related cases are not to do with lack of awareness alone but people’s greed for fast money.

“Smugglers are taking chances taking advantage of the helpless addicted people,” Phuntsho Wangdi said. “Its time people understood that trafficking is not going to help anybody. It’s a business that is spoiling the lives of others.”

Phuntsho Wangdi also said that while BNCA will continue with its awareness people, smugglers should also know that one day, it could be their child or grandchild.

With the amendment of the NDPSSA Act, all controlled drugs and psychotropic substances are classified under various schedules along with the permissible quantity if the drugs or substances are to be used for health, educational or industrial purposes.

The Act states that illegal possession of all controlled narcotics and psychotropic substances could result in an offence of misdemeanor if the quantity is less than the limit determined in the Act but fails to produce a prescription from a registered physician for licit use.

However, illicit trafficking such as possession, imports, exports, stores, sales, purchases, transports, distributes, or supplies would land a prison term of first to a fourth degree felony depending on the quantity.

Kinga Dema