Drug smugglers find a new, loose route— Siddhartha HighwayPolice have registered as many as 35 drug-related cases in the past three years.
The Palpa District Police on July 5 nabbed two men, identified as Suman Gurung and Sagar BK, with two grams and seven milligrams of brown sugar during a security check at Aryabhanjyang in Palpa. Using the men’s mobile phones, the police tracked and arrested two other men, Gaurishankar Tharu and Gobinda Tharu, with the same drug a few weeks later.
All these men, between the ages of 20 and 31, are locals, and they had an underground network, say police. The network also included Ramzan Ali, a local of Waling in Syangja, who was nabbed with Rs 15,000 while on his way to purchase the grainy semi-synthetic opioid. Suman, Gaurishankar and Govinda are currently remanded into custody while Sagar and Ramzan have been released on Rs100,000 bail.
“It took us quite a lot of effort to navigate through the racket,” said DSP Krishna Raj Sapkota of Palpa District Police. “We have been able to nab several smugglers in the same racket through the arrestees’ mobile phones.”
Areas like Jhumsa, Prabhas and Aryabhanjyang over the past couple of years have been fast earning notoriety as a hotspot for drug smugglers, according to Deependra GC, superintendent of police with Palpa District Police. The police have made over a dozen arrests in this period from these areas.
The latest among the police’s catch are Kiran Gurung, 31, of Madi in Kaski, and Bishal Nepali, 22, of Arjun Chaupari in Syangja, who were arrested while on their way to Pokhara with drugs of three variety—Diazepam, Noofen and Phenergan—and some money. They were apprehended near Jhumsa in Palpa.
During their police statements, the smugglers invariably reported that they purchase drugs in the Sunauli border from Indian dealers, according to the police. Most of the smugglers make Butwal city the centre of their navigation. They don’t deal in big amount but in a few grams, GC said.
“They only get a certain amount of drugs from the Indian dealers, and they deal in a smaller amount to lessen the risk of being caught,” GC said. “Because of this, we have only been able to nab some traffickers, but not many dealers.”
In the fiscal years 2017/18 and 2018/19, the police have registered a total of 30 cases of illegal drug smuggling. In the first five months of this fiscal year, there have been five registered cases.
According to GC, smugglers are often caught while travelling on motorcycles. Many of the arrestees have conceded of trafficking drugs for years. While the police are aware that the Siddhartha Highway is gaining notoriety for drug smuggling, Sapkota said that they can’t perform stringent security check daily for lack of manpower.
“We can’t perform strict checks every day,” Sapkota said. “But there’s no doubt this route is being used increasingly to traffic drugs.”