Surge in Drug-Related Cases in 2023: Stricter Enforcement Measures Result in Record Arrests

โ€ฆ๐‘ป๐’‰๐’Š๐’Ž๐’‘๐’‰๐’– ๐‘ซ๐’Š๐’—๐’Š๐’”๐’Š๐’๐’ ๐’•๐’๐’‘๐’” ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’๐’Š๐’”๐’• ๐’˜๐’Š๐’•๐’‰ ๐’๐’๐’•๐’‚๐’ƒ๐’๐’† ๐’Š๐’๐’„๐’“๐’†๐’‚๐’”๐’† ๐’‡๐’“๐’๐’Ž ๐’‘๐’“๐’†๐’—๐’Š๐’๐’–๐’” ๐’š๐’†๐’‚๐’“

Sonam Deki

In the year 2023, the Royal Bhutan Police recorded a substantial rise in drug-related cases, totaling 1,920, resulting in the apprehension of 3,669 individuals. Delving into the divisional breakdown, Thimphu emerged as the epicenter of drug-related incidents, reporting 732 cases and the arrest of 1,506 individuals. A comparative analysis with 2022 data, which indicated 721 cases and 1,557 arrests, stresses a significant escalation in drug-related incidents.


Deputy Chief of Police, Crime and Operation Division, Colonel Passang Dorji, attributed this surge to intensified enforcement measures. He explained, “The increase in cases is a direct outcome of stricter enforcement. Previously, some individuals might have eluded capture due to lax enforcement.”

Colonel Passang said, “The escalation in drug-related cases can be attributed to the intensified enforcement efforts. Before the inception of the Drug Division in 2023, the responsibility for handling such cases rested solely with the Police Stations. One officer was tasked with overseeing various types of cases, leading to a lack of focus and limited outcomes due to the need for multitasking.”


“Recognizing the pressing need to combat the rising instances of drug abuse nationwide, the Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) took a strategic step by establishing a dedicated Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Division. This division is now operational across seven districts, with each district equipped with a specialized police officer. This move has significantly bolstered enforcement capabilities, resulting in a more targeted and effective approach. Consequently, the establishment of the NDPS Division has led to a notable increase in the apprehension of drug-related cases, and then there was a pedestrian and Integrated Check Post (ICP), leading to enhanced enforcement,” he added.


Analyzing the demographic breakdown of arrests, 360 individuals fall below the age of 17 and 1551 individuals aged between 18 and 24 and, 1758 individuals aged 25 and above were apprehended in 2023. Gender-wise, 3,437 males and 232 females faced arrest during the year. In comparison, 2022 witnessed the arrest of 1,471 males and 86 females.
Among the divisions, Bumthang reported the fewest drug-related cases, totaling 7, leading to the arrest of 15 individuals. Similarly, Trongsa also recorded 7 cases, resulting in the apprehension of 17 individuals.


In the analysis of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) seizures from 2022 to 2023, significant changes in the quantities of various substances were observed.


In 2022, 6.07 kilograms of cannabis leaves were seized, which increased to 14.97 kilograms in 2023. Resin (Hashish) seizures rose from 2.04 kilograms in 2022 to 1.91 kilograms in 2023. Brown sugar seizures decreased from 5.29 grams in 2022 to 0.36 grams in 2023. A nominal amount of Ketamine, recorded at 0 kilograms in 2022, increased slightly to 0.006 kilograms in 2023.

The category of solvents exhibited variations with 4 milliliters of Correcting Fluid/Diluter and 16.41 liters of Thinner seized in 2022. In 2023, Dendrite seizures amounted to 550 grams, while Thinner seizures reached 148.01 liters.
Seizures in the pharmaceutical category included Corex/Recordex (bottles of 100 ml each) with 165 ml, 1667 tablets of Nitrosun, and 2,56,385 capsules of Spasmo Proxyvon Plus in 2022. In 2023, the quantities increased to 203 ml, 2401 tablets, and reduced to 2,43,849 capsules respectively.


Further insights into the nature of cases revealed 1,540 instances of substance abuse, leading to the arrest of 2,830 individuals. Additionally, there were 17 cases involving the illegal sale of inhalants or solvents, resulting in 60 arrests. Illegal possession accounted for 24 cases, leading to the arrest of 38 individuals, while 339 cases of illicit trafficking resulted in 741 individuals being apprehended. The data highlights the multifaceted challenges faced by authorities in combating drug-related offenses.

The RBP is diligently carrying out its responsibilities by apprehending individuals involved in drug-related cases to the best of their abilities.

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