Drug abuse, smuggling rife in valley: NCB

Kathmandu, May 15

Organised trade of controlled pharmaceutical drugs, which can only be sold and bought against a doctor’s prescription, continues unabated despite police crackdown on dealers and users.

Police arrested three persons with 32 ampoules of injecting drugs — diazepam, phenergan and buprenorphine — from Godavari of Lalitpur yesterday. The suspects are Suman Maharjan, 25, Raju KC, 30, and Niranjan KC, 28, of Lalitpur district.

On May 1, the Narcotics Control Bureau arrested a person with a huge amount of injecting prescription drugs from Kalanki. Keshav Paudel, 32, of Ramechhap was held in possession of 3,000 ampoules of diazepam, buprenorphine and phenergan.

NCB said he was long involved in smuggling prescription drugs to major cities through Nepal-India border. Paudel is a repeat offender. He was released from the jail on September 17 last year after serving 10 years for possessing 35 gram brown heroin.  Paudel had been smuggling prescription drugs to Kathmandu from India via Birgunj for the past few months in an organised way. According to NCB, may racketeers like Paudel were found to have switched to smuggling of pharmaceutical drugs from hardcore ones such as hashish and heroin. Those found in possession of hardcore drugs get up to life imprisonment. But those convicted of smuggling pharmaceutical drugs need spend only around three years in jail.

NCB warned that prescription drug abuse was rife in Kathmandu valley. It said teenagers and youths account for the largest section of end users of prescription drugs. An ampoule or tablet of the prescription drugs is sold at around Rs 500 against Rs 1,000 for one gram of heroin in the illegal market. They are accessible and more affordable for users.

Alarmed by the smuggling and consumption of illicit drugs and alcohol, the Ministry of Home Affairs is preparing to launch a nationwide campaign against drug abuse across the country.

According to the home ministry, it is set to form ‘Anti-drug and Alcohol Committee’ in each ward of the local levels soon. The ministry has already directed Nepal Police, Armed Police Force and National Investigation Department to intensify efforts to combat drug smuggling and addiction, and illegal moon-shining and bootlegging of alcohol.