Drug cartels tapping women to smuggle cocaine through Nepal

Kathmandu, March 26

More foreign women are being lured and tricked into acting as drug mules by international rackets with the promise of handsome payment.

The Narcotics Control Bureau had arrested 19 cocaine traffickers from various places of Kathmandu, including Tribhuvan International Airport, in 10 cases from January 2012 to November 2016. Nearly 34 kilograms of cocaine was seized from them. Of the foreign smugglers, 13 were women, mostly Thai, Filipino, South African, Bolivian, Venezuelan, Malaysian, Indian and Pakistani nationals.

According to a report published by NCB, non-drug users were found transporting cocaine to various destinations for a petty amount. Cocaine is often known as ‘a rich person’s drug’. It is priced at around Rs 20 million per kg on the grey market.

However, the price of cocaine differs from country to country based on number of users, quality of cocaine and accessibility.

“Most foreign women arrested by NCB were involved in drug trafficking due to lack of economic opportunities back home. They were easily persuaded to act as paid drug mules without being informed of what the baggage contained,” said a NCB official. In many cases, they were totally unaware of what they were carrying and transporting.

Almost all the seizures were found to be heading toward European countries from Nepal via various routes. NCB said Nepali anti-drug agency was working not to let any cartel exploit this land as transit point for transnational and transcontinental narcotics crime.

There is no accurate figure of cocaine users in Nepal. Only a handful of influential and wealthy families of Kathmandu are able to afford these drugs, said investigators. The use of illegal drugs like marijuana, hashish, brown heroin and prescription drugs are more common in Nepal.

The drug cartels choose this land as transit point mainly because they suppose they can easily pass the security check as Nepal does not have modern drug detection machines at the TIA. Second reason is that even if the traffickers are arrested, Nepal does not have the provision of death sentence for drug trafficking that many other countries have. Cocaine flow in Nepal indicates that mostly Nigerian drug cartels attempt to exploit the country as transit point for cocaine from South American countries, including Brazil and Peru.