In comparison to the preceding year, there has seen a rise in drug incidents in 2023. There were 1,557 cases reported to the police in 2022. Of which 1,471 were male and 86 were female; however, in 2023 there were 3,669 cases reported, 3,437 male and 232 female, an increase of 2,112 cases.
A comprehensive breakdown of drug offenses was maintained based on age, gender, division, and specific types of offenses. The police conducted targeted investigations across various divisions to address those issues.
There was a notable increase in 2023 from 609 arrests in 2022 to 1,758 arrests in 2023 in the age group of 25 years and above.
And for the age group of 18 to 24 years, saw a significant increase in arrests from 727 in 2022 to 1,551 in 2023—a rise of 824 cases.
According to the police, the rise in numbers could be related to student migration in the summer and winter months when schools are not in session. Some students may become involved in illicit activities due to their need for quick money or their desire to experiment with drugs. Remarkably, some may even turn to drug trafficking from neighboring countries to pay for their academic pursuits.
Men comprised the majority of individuals involved in drug offenses in 2023, with 3,437 arrests compared to 1,471 in 2022. The number of female arrests also increased, climbing from 86 in 2022 to 232 in 2023. This represents a substantial difference in both groups.
Abusers, illegal sales of inhalants or solvents, illegal possession, and illicit trafficking are the four categories in which cases were reported.
The majority of drug-related arrests in 2023 were offenses under abuser arrests from 1,159 in 2022 to 2,830 in 2023, followed by illicit trafficking with 389 to 741, illegal sales of inhalants or solvents with 4 to 60, and illegal possession with 5 to 38.
The police official said that the most significant increase in reported cases is in the field of abusers, with 571 in 2022 to 1,540 in 2023.
The report shows that illicit trafficking saw a substantial rise, increasing from 147 in 2022 to 339 in 2023. Fewer cases were reported for illegal sales of inhalants or solvents with two in 2022 to 24 in 2023 and illegal possession with one in 2022 to 17 in 2023 witnessed significant percentage increases.
On a divisional basis, Thimphu emerged as the hotspot with a significant increase to 1,506 individuals arrested in 2023 compared to 719 in 2022 and a rise in recorded cases from 732 in 2023 compared to 333 in 2022, followed by Phuentsholing with similar trends with 539 cases and 740 arrested in 2023 compared to 225 arrested and 99 cases in 2022. Other districts like Samtse, Samdrup Jongkhar, and Paro also saw a noteworthy increase in arrested and recorded cases.
The surge in drug offenses recorded in certain Dzongkhags, according to police officials, is because of the density of the population.
Thimphu serves as a prime example. “Its function as a central hub with high in-migration for specific purposes leading to the higher frequency of drug cases observed in the city,” added the official.
Similarly, the southern districts of Samdrup Jongkhar, Samtse, Phuentsholing, and Gelephu, with their border locations, face unique challenges due to high levels of population movement. “Manual checks at every terminal by police were becoming increasingly difficult and time-consuming.”
Some tools have been deployed since last year to solve this, enabling automated checks and greatly enhancing the effectiveness of border security operations.
“Although there have been more cases reported this year than last year, this is partially attributed to the upgraded tool’s ability to recognize and address possible problems,” he said.
Currently, things have been considered, and the system for border security is now more effective and efficient. “Where, in each pedestrian terminal, there are 21 Integrated Check Posts (ICP) in the border area. These are designated where police can stop and question individuals or vehicles suspected of being involved in illegal activity,” he added.
Police officials also said that they have implemented a new policy since last year, mandating the examination of all cars including armed forces.
The recorded increase in vehicle-related drug arrests was mostly attributable to this all-encompassing strategy, which sought to ensure fairness and boost awareness.
To make drug drug-free nation, RBP is working constantly. But police officials said, “People are smarter than us; they found other ways to import it.”