Despite pandemic restrictions, police believe smugglers are still moving drugs into NepalCovid-19 has increased the prices of drugs and smugglers are willing to take risks to make profit.
On Tuesday, the Metropolitan Crime Division in coordination with Bhaktapur Metropolitan Police Range arrested three people, two from Sallaghari area of Bhaktapur and one from Budanilakantha of Kathmandu, who were smuggling drugs from India in the guise of transporting essential goods.
“We received a tip-off about a truck container (Na 3 Kha 9089) which was allegedly smuggling contraband to the Valley from time to time, so we mobilised a special team for a search operation,” said Superintendent Ishwar Karki, spokesperson for the Metropolitan Crime Division.
“We found the truck parked on the roadside of Araniko Highway in Sallaghari. When the team raided the truck they found two big plastic bags full of illegal pharmaceutical drugs under the seats.”
Two people were arrested from the scene and based on their statements a third person was caught from Budhanilkantha, said Karki.
The arrestees have been identified as Dambar Bahadur Pradhan, 37, Bishnu Pradhan, 36, and Shankar Khadka, 32, all from Sindhupalchok.
Police have confiscated 2,950 ampules of Diazepam, 3,000 ampules of Nitrovit, 2,950 ampules of Promethazine, 1,500 ampules of Buprenorphine and 1,400 ampules of Noophin.
“Preliminary investigation has shown that the three men used to bring pharmaceutical drugs from India with other essential goods and sell them in the Valley at higher rates,” said an officer on the condition of anonymity.
The arrestees have been sent to Bhaktapur Metropolitan Police Range for further investigation.
After the Covid-19 pandemic led the government to restrict flights and movement of vehicles, cases of drug smuggling through the border and international flights have gone down in the past five months.
However, police believe that illegal drugs are still entering the country through vehicles transporting essential goods.
“Due to the restrictions, drug users are willing to pay high prices. So drivers transporting essential goods do not hesitate to carry such illegal drugs as they can make huge money in a short period,” said Senior Superintendent Dilip Kumar Choudhari, chief of the Narcotics Control Bureau.
“Drug smugglers are taking risks despite strict security surveillance because the lockdown has also affected the illegal drug trade and they can make a huge profit during these lean times,” said Choudhari.
The narcotics bureau which is headquartered in Koteshwor, Kathmandu, is also running its operations to arrest such smugglers from its different units located at places like Jhapa, Morang, Parsa, Rupandehi and Banke, said Dhital.
The bureau in the past three year has witnessed a steady rise in the number of drug smuggling cases and arrests.
In the fiscal year 2016/17, police arrested 3,607 persons on drug smuggling charges; 159 of the arrestees were foreigners. In the fiscal year 2017/18, authorities arrested 4,754 persons, including 149 foreigners. In 2018/19, 5,558 people were arrested, including 201 foreign nationals.