Police say smugglers are taking advantage of the porous border to bring in contrabands.

On Wednesday evening, the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) arrested Marcel Guehi, 35, of Ivory Coast, with 1.6 kg cocaine at the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA).

The confiscated cocaine was worth around Rs 48 million, said SP Krishna Prasai, spokesperson at NCB.

Guehi’s arrest is the latest in a series of such crimes. Over the past three years, 13,919 smugglers—including foreigners—were detained from various places of Nepal, data provided by the NCB shows.

“Most of the time Nepal is used as a transit point to smuggle drugs to other South Asian countries like India, China, Thailand and Japan. Drugs like cocaine and opium are not used in our country, because they are very expensive and most people cannot afford it,” added Prasai.

The NCB data shows 3,607 smugglers were arrested in connection with drugs and smuggling in the fiscal year 2016/17, including 159 foreigners. In the fiscal year 2017/18, 4,754 were arrested including 149 foreigners. Similarly, in the year 2018/19, police arrested 5,558 including 201 foreign nationals.

According to SP Prasai, most commonly hashish and marijuana are smuggled to make quick money. Drug smugglers are also arrested with heroin, opium, and controlled pharmaceutical drugs, according to data of NCB. The smuggling of illegal and pharmaceutical drugs has become common along the Nepal-India border because of lax security, said Ex DIG Hemanta Malla, who has worked in NCB for more than a decade.

“There is also little police security at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), only customs officer and immigration officers are mobilised in the arrival area, and smugglers are using this to their advantage,” Prasai told the Post.

“Police should be mobilised at the arrival terminal like they are mobilised during departure time. Only then can we work effectively,” he added.

Confiscated drugs are destroyed within 15 days, as per the law, said Prasai.