Sunday, 19 September, 2021

Drug trafficking spiralling upwards


Puja Banjara


Illegal selling or transportation of drugs has become an increasing problem in recent years. Drug trafficking is a crime of cultivating, manufacturing, distributing, selling or illegally importing or exporting unlawful controlled substances, such as heroin, cocaine, marijuana, or other illegal drugs.
The rate of drug-related crimes has been rising by 11.36 per cent every year in Nepal, according a data from the Narcotic Control Bureau.
As international borders become increasingly porous, global trafficking and accessibility to drugs have become increasingly widespread. This international trade involves growers, producers, couriers, suppliers and dealers.
The 23rd Regional Interpol Conference held in Kathmandu pointed Nepal as a transit for smuggling drugs and operating big syndicate so far. Nepal sits on the Himalayas, landlocked between India and China, making it a source and transit country for crime groups, smuggling drugs from Asia to other regions and continents.
The Narcotic Control Bureau is the principal institution that has a goal of creating a drug free society through effective control of drug supply and drug crimes.
It has been disclosed that drug-related offence is the highest and major criminal activity that occurred in the Fiscal Year 2075/2076, where 3,703 crimes were recorded.
Among them, four per cent perpetrators were aged above 18 years, 74 per cent were aged between 19-35 years, 18 per cent were aged between 35-50 years, and four per cent were between 51-69 years.
As per the record published by the Crime Investigation Department of the Nepal Police, In FY 2075/2076, Marijuana (10359 kg), opium (31 kg), Corex (3063 bottle), Charesh (2659 kg), Dilax(1866), Heroin (11 kg), and amphetamine (693 kg) were confiscated and 5,558 perpetrators were arrested.
Among the arrested, 5,357 were Nepalis and 201 were foreign nationals. The Narcotic Control Bureau had seized Buprenorphine (9636 Ampul), Diazepam (9597 Ampul), Phenergan (8882 Ampul), Nitrazepam (16484 tablet), Proxivan(288 capsule), Codin (41 bottles).
A Portuguese citizen, Tiago Mendes Pereira, was arrested from the Tribhuvan International Airport for carrying 4 kg and 200 grams Amphetamine.
He was to fly to Japan via New Delhi on Air India. The seized amphetamine’s market price was more than Rs. 40 million and it was the largest confiscation of all time.
According to the Narcotics Drug (Control) Act 2033, any person, Nepali citizen or foreigner, who, while residing in a foreign country, conducts transaction of export or import of narcotic drugs from or into Nepal can be prosecuted and punished as if he/she had committed such act within Nepal.
People involved in drug crime are punished in proportion to the cannabis/marijuana seized from them. The highest confiscation i.e., if 10 kilograms or more, sends the person to imprisonment for a term of two to 10 years and with a fine from Rs. 15,000- Rs. 100,000.
Also, a peddler trafficking psychotropic substance is liable to imprisonment for two to 10 years and with a fine from Rs. 100,000 to Rs. 2 million.
In the criminal cases, the burden of proving the defendant’s guilt generally lies on the prosecution. But if any narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances are found to be in possession of any person, he/she shall have to furnish proof to the effect that he/she has possessed such substance under the law.
Failing to prove the allegations lead to conviction of the accused.
Being an organised crime, drug trafficking includes a group of people. The organised criminals commit crime in one country and live in another hence making it difficult to reach the principal offender.
Slow process of the trial is the main cause for the loss of evidences.
There must be an extradition treaty between the requesting state and requested state. At the same time, they must declare the conduct as offence for which they have signed the treaty.
In the absence of such treaty, there is a chance for the criminals to run away from the grip of the laws. So, the principle of dual criminality should be adopted in order to prosecute the criminals.
Also, due to remote geographical locations and lack of proper observation of the security agencies in the areas, opium cultivation has become widespread.
Most villagers living in extreme poverty without any alternative livelihood sources have been attracted to opium cultivation, which provides the best financial results and high profit compared to cultivation of the traditional crops.
The government should also initiate development programmes in the highly affected areas of Nepal so that there are enough economic opportunities available in these places, which will generate employment opportunities to the people which would eventually prevent drug trade.
The strong international network of mafia, optimum use of technology and a good source of income in a very short span of time are the foremost reasons beside the swift and overnight rise of drug transaction. The criminal groups undermine state authority, immigration law and the rule of law by fuelling corruption, compromising elections and hurting the legitimate economy.
It is high time to tighten up checking and screening system along the Indo-Nepal border, Tribhuvan International Airport and all the other land routes to bring illegal activities down and control any kind of drug trafficking.
Effective control mechanism within the immigration law against the traffickers may serve as an instrumental part for the nation to minimise the drug dealings within the country.