Nepal may be becoming a new transit point for drug smugglersAs many as 5,607 people were arrested for drug-related crimes in the first five months of the current fiscal year, data show.
On December 21, the Narcotics Control Bureau of Nepal Police arrested two Belarusian nationals with six kilograms of cocaine during immigration check at the Tribhuvan International Airport. The amount of cocaine seized from the two foreigners is the single-largest seizure by the bureau yet. The confiscated cocaine was worth more than Rs150 million, officials said.
The accused were trying to smuggle the cocaine to Hong Kong by a Cathay Pacific flight.
They had concealed the cocaine in jackets, which were kept in their luggage.
Upon interrogation, they said two Bolivians Roberto Carlos Merubia Mariace and Raul Zambrana Ordonez had supplied them the cocaine. Police arrested the duo from Lost Garden Hotel, Lazimpat, on the same day.
“The arrested men had made a meticulous plan to use Nepal as a transit point. Nepal was certainly not the destination country for the contraband,” said Superintendent of Police Birendra Kumar Bashyal, a spokesperson for the bureau. “The case is still under investigation.”
According to Bashyal, during interrogation, the bureau found out that the main supplier lived abroad. “We have already requested the Interpol Nepal to inform the country and arrest the main supplier,” said Bashyal, without revealing the name of the country because the investigation is currently underway.
On December 17, police had arrested another Bolivian national, Herrera Arteaga Olga, 41, from the Tribhuvan International Airport with three kilograms of cocaine.
Olga had arrived in Kathmandu from Dubai and had hidden the cocaine in his luggage.
The number of foreigners being arrested by the narcotics bureau has increased over the years.
According to the data provided by the Narcotics Control Bureau, in the past five months alone, 206 foreigners, including Indian nationals, were held for possessing illegal drugs. “This fiscal year alone, the bureau has confiscated more than 12 kg cocaine which is the highest of all time,” said SP Bashyal.
“Expensive drugs like cocaine are not much used in Nepal. They are produced mainly in Latin American countries and are smuggled to countries like Japan, Korea, Australia, and Hong Kong,” said Bashyal.
He added: “However, the bureau has done great work in the past by arresting a number of national and international smugglers from various places. We have our unit working 24 hours in major places like the airport and border areas like Nepalgunj, Birgunj and Kakadbhitta to ensure the arrest of such smugglers.”
Foreign smugglers may have targeted the Kathmandu airport to use it as a transit point because the security check is not so advanced.
“However, we have experienced and hardworking officers who are deployed by the bureau in civil dress to monitor suspicious activities,” Bashyal said.
The Narcotics Control Bureau has 123 officers. “Although the team is working hard, we need drug analyser equipment at the airport to work more effectively,” said an officer at the bureau.
The bureau’s data of the last three years show that drug smuggling cases and arrests are on the rise in the country.
In the fiscal year 2016/17, police arrested 3,607 persons on drug smuggling charges—of them, 159 were foreigners. In the fiscal year 2017/18, it arrested 4,754 persons, including 149 foreigners. In 2018/19, 5,558 people were arrested, including 201 foreign nationals.
During the first five months of the current fiscal year, data show that as many as 5,607 people were arrested for drug-related crimes, including 206 foreigners.