Kathmandu, March 8
Despite the government’s efforts to hit the supply side of illicit drugs, trafficking of the contraband continues undeterred and is on upward trend with each passing year.
The law enforcement agency arrested as many as 4,488 drug traffickers in 2018 compared to 3,941 last year, an increase by around 13 per cent.
According to Nepal Police, it confiscated drugs, mainly prescription ones, from 8,439 persons in the past two years and subsequently destroyed them.
Unlike illegal gold and cash seized from offenders, drugs are not counted as revenue generated by the government and should be destroyed as per the international law.
Similarly, the Narcotics Control Bureau filed drug charges against 3,896 persons in 2016 on drug charges, a significant increase from 2,756 in 2015 and 2,918 in 2014.
According to Narcotics Control Bureau, the number of drug related offences is higher than any other heinous crime in Nepal and is increasing at an alarming rate. Foreigners are also found to be actively involved in drug abuse and trafficking.
Tribhuvan International Airport, the only international airport is being used to transport drugs and drug traffickers are making Nepal their transit point. Total 876 foreigners, including 775 Indian national, were held in the past five years. The anti-drug agency of Nepal Police said it arrested and initiated legal action against as many as 25,146 persons for their involvement in smuggling and peddling drugs over a period of six years (2011-2018) across the country. They were arrested with cannabis, hashish, heroin, opium, cocaine and controlled pharmaceutical drugs.
A report published by Narcotics Control Bureau stated that proactive measures of the anti-drug agency had led to the increase in the arrest of traffickers and seizure of narcotic drugs.
Arrests and seizures are doing little to control drug smuggling. Racketeers working on the top layer have been selling dreams to their agents in Nepal and abroad. Growing demand for drugs is also to blame for the trend.
The data show that smuggling of prescription drugs into Kathmandu valley in recent times is on the rise as racketeers are found to have switched to trafficking pharmaceutical drugs from hardcore ones such as hashish and heroin due to lenient punishment for smuggling of controlled pharmaceutical drugs. Youths account for the largest section of end users of prescription drugs as they are more accessible and affordable for users.
According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, the annual growth rate of drug users is around 11.36 per cent.
A version of this article appears in print on March 09, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.