Nepal emerging as major hub for drug trafficking

Kathmandu, September 7

With a steady rise in the number of drugs abusers in Nepal, the number of people arrested on the charge of smuggling is noticeably increasing of late in the country.

The statistics of the past six years (2011-2015) made available by the Nepal Police show that a total of 15,496 drugs smugglers were arrested in the country during this period.

Over 2,000 individuals were detained on an average each year in the last five years on the charge of their involvement in drugs abuse and smuggling, with the number of female smugglers increasing at an alarming rate.

If the current trend continues, the number of smugglers will possibly reach an all time high of 3,300 by the end of this year, police have estimated.

In the past six years, police have confiscated 14,881 kilograms of marijuana, the same quantity of hashish, 67 kilograms of opium, 52 kilograms of heroin and 28 kilograms of cocaine. The current local market value of marijuana and hashish is Rs 25,000 per kg while the price of opium is Rs 200,000 per kg. Heroin and cocaine are traded at Rs 20 million per kg.

Amongst the smugglers, a high number of Indian nationals have been arrested in drug smuggling; with the police arresting a total of 763 Indian nationals, including 729 men and 36 women.

In 2011, the number of Indian nationals arrested were 126 men and 9 women whereas in 2012, 179 men and 8 women were apprehended on smuggling charges. In 2013, police arrested 123 men and 6 women, in 2014, 127 men and 6 women, in 2015, 107 men and 4 women and by the end of August in 2016, Nepal police have arrested 65 men and 3 women of Indian nationality.

Apart from India, police have also arrested a total of 80 foreigners from various third world countries this year alone. It is apparent that international drug smugglers have been using Nepal as a transit for smuggling as it has been discovered that cocaine and heroin arrive in Nepal from Latin American countries such as Brazil and Peru.

The cocaine and heroin are not sold in Nepal and instead exported to India, China, Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia among other East Asian countries, Narcotics Control Bureau Chief DIG Jaya Bahadur Chand said.

Often, non-drug users have been caught smuggling illegal drugs like cocaine and heroin for a small amount of money. In Nepal, only a handful of influential and wealthy families of Kathmandu are able to afford these drugs, Chand said.

The use of illegal drugs like marijuana, hashish, nurofen tablets, pheneragan and diazepam are more common in Nepal, Chand said.

According to a study conducted by an organisation under the United Nations, presently, 300 million people across the globe abuse drugs every year; with trading of illegal drugs worth approximately USD 332 billion.

Likewise, a study conducted by the Nepal government in 2069 BS puts the number of drug abusers at 91,534 across the country (85,204 male and 6,330 female).

Data shows that the number of drug abusers in Nepal is increasing by 11.36 per cent each year.