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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
03KATHMANDU1133 2003-06-18 23:09:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kathmandu
Cable title:  

NEPAL: MID-YEAR STATUS REPORT ON DRUG TRAFFICKING

Tags:   SNAR NP 
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KATHMANDU 001133 

SIPDIS

STATE FOR SA/INS, SA/RA AND INL, DS/IP/SA
LONDON FOR POL-GUERNEY
NEW DELHI FOR DEA AND CUSTOMS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/19/2013
TAGS: SNAR NP
SUBJECT: NEPAL: MID-YEAR STATUS REPORT ON DRUG TRAFFICKING

Classified By: Charge Robert K. Boggs for Reasons 1.5 (b,d).



1. (C) Summary. Nepali police have seized 149 kg of cannabis
and hashish and 6.9 kg of heroin in the first half of 2003,
up from only 38 kg of hashish and .38 kg of heroin in the
same period in 2002. Forty-four Nepali citizens and 8
foreigners have been arrested in Nepal, while 12 Nepali
citizens have been arrested overseas in connection with drug
trafficking. Nepali police estimate that domestic production
of cannabis and hashish is high, but seizures are extremely
difficult, as most illicit drugs are transported by land to
India. Anectodal evidence indicates that Maoist insurgents
levy a 35 percent tax on the cultivation and transportation
of cannabis. Increased evidence of Nepali traffickers'
expanding connections with international drug rings has
raised fears that Nepal will become a transit point for
heroin and other 'hard drugs' from India, Pakistan and
Thailand to North America and Europe. End Summary.



2. (SBU) On June 17, PolOff met with Hemant Malla,
Superintendant of Police for the Narcotic Drug Control Law
Enforcement Unit (NDCLEU), to discuss progress on
interdiction and conviction of drug traffickers in Nepal.
The NDCLEU has eight satellite units: six in the Terai
(southern belt), one in Pokhara and one at Tribhuvan
International Airport outside Kathmandu. NDCLEU employs 21
police officers at the satellite units and 54 officers at
headquarters in Kathmandu. Ten of these officers work
undercover as buyer agents. (Note. Most interdictions made
within Nepal are based on intelligence provided by the
undercover police officers, not from random searches. End
Note.) According to Malla, the NDCLEU's largest operational
problem is the unpredictable rotation and reassignment of
police in Nepal; officers may work at the NDCLEU anywhere
from two months to several years. (Transfers of civil police
in Nepal are common throughout the 46,000 strong force as a
means to limit corruption.) Malla must constantly train new
officers, which he does through a team-based approach whereby
new officers are teamed with more experienced officers in the
field.



--------------------------

-
Domestic Production, Consumption and Seizures


--------------------------

-



3. (SBU) Nepal is a source country for cannabis, which is
exported primarily for consumption in India, and hashish,
which ends up in North America, Europe and South East Asia.
According to Malla, Nepal consumes approximately 30 percent
of its domestically-grown cannabis and hashish as well as
imported low-grade heroin from Pakistan and India. Malla
also reported a growing incidence of methamphetamine use, as
well as a rise in the abuse of prescription drugs, such as
tidigesic injectable (synthetic heroin), nitrogepam and
diagepam.



4. (C) Illicit growers in Nepal cultivate two breeds of
marijuana: a 'high breed' that grows quickly and can be
harvested three times per year, and a 'Nepali breed,' in
higher-demand, that is only harvested twice per year in
January-February and October-November. The NDCLEU, during the
first 2003 harvesting season, seized 149 kg of cannabis in
primarily four districts (Parsa, Bara, Mahattari and
Makwanpur) in the Terai, the southern lowlands of Nepal.
This year the NDCLEU also seized 6.9 kg of heroin in transit
from India, as compared to 6.5 kg by year-end 2002. In
connection with these seizures, the NDCLEU arrested 44 Nepali
citizens and 8 foreigners, including 2 Israelis, 2 Poles, 3
Japanese and 1 Burmese. There have been no seizures of
precursor chemcials since 1997.



5. (C) Malla would not estimte the quantity of hashish and
cannabis exported by land to India, although he believed the
amount was very high. Commercial trucks, returning to India
after delivering goods in Nepal, and private vehicles stash
illegal drugs in hidden compartments, including inside the
seats and behind exterior side panelling. A commercial truck
can stash 500-700 kilograms of hashish or cannabis, while a
small private vehicle can easily stash 70 kilograms.
Interdictions of these vehicles is extremely difficult, said
Malla, because the India-Nepal border is open and porous,
with thousands of vehicles crossing by each of the major
roads every day.



6. (C) Malla referred to anectdotal evidence that Maoist
insurgents in the middle hills of Nepal levy a tax on both
the cultivation and transportation of cannabis. Much of this
cannabis is sold to China through rural Dolpa. Malla
estimated that the levy was as high as 35 percent of the
value of the crops.



--------------------------


International Connections are Growing


--------------------------





7. (C) Malla reported that a growing number of Nepali
citizens are becoming active in the international drug trade.
For the past six years, the NDCLEU has been working with DEA
and other international drug control agencies to track three
drug syndicates, helping in the arrest of over 100
traffickers from Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Thailand and
Nepal. Malla reported a growth in the number of Nepali
traffickers, based in Bangkok, who are involved in the
financing and organizing of drug trafficking. So far this
year, 12 Nepali citizens have been arrested outside the
country for trafficking in hashish, cocaine and heroin, with
one case linked to methamphetamines. In one case in early
June, three Nepalis were arrested in China, near the Nepal
border, carrying 4 kg of heroin. Malla said he had evidence
that Nepali drug traffickers based overseas are expanding
their connections with Pakistani, Thai, Indian and possibly
other international drug rings. (Note. Three Yakuza were
detained at Tribhuvan International Airport in early June
with excessive cash. End Note.) He fears that these
expanding networks will result in Nepal providing a transit
point for heroin and other 'hard drugs' from South and South
East Asia to North America and Europe.



--------------------------


Comment


--------------------------





8. (C) It is difficult to determine the reason for the
increase in drug seizures. However, in view of Nepal's
faltering tourism industry and declining economy, it is
possible that Nepali farmers are increasing cannabis
cultivation in order to feed their families and businessmen
are looking for more lucrative trade. It is also possible
that Maoist leaders are encouraging illicit production in an
effort to fill their depleted war chests. The open border
with India will continue to limit severely the ability of law
enforcement agencies to interdict drug traffickers, creating
a ripe environment attracting traffickers to Nepal. End
Comment.
BOGGS