KATHMANDU, May 8: Police recently arrested one Devendra Bikram Rokka, the alleged kingpin of a major hashish racket reportedly smuggling out ´top quality´ contraband, especially to Europe and Canada.
The 53-year-old from Baglung is said to be a veteran in the trafficking of hashish, for which Nepal is popular in the international contraband market.
Official estimates are that Nepali hashish accounts for six percent of the total hashish consumed in the world because of its cold weather-origins and special intoxicating traits.
A team of the Narcotic Drug Control Law Enforcement Unit (NDCLEU) had busted a hashish processing factory at Sitapaila-5 in a special operation. Several sets of modern equipment used in processing hashish were confiscated from the factory. The NDCLEU operation spanned two months during which Rokka was put under surveillence. He would typically export hashish concealed in normal-looking quilts, it is stated.
A huge shipment of quilts embedded with 136 kilograms of hashish was to be transhipped to Canada from his factory just as the raid took place. “This is a very interesting modus operandi. The way Rokka seems to have handled his operations shows he is very deft in smuggling,” said Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Nawaraj Silwal.
Rokka has reportedly been involved in the hashish trade for 42 years and, according to investigative officials, he even boasts how he completed his schooling through drug peddling. A SLC graduate, Rokka also speaks English very well and poses as a person with a spiritual bent, often practicing meditation, it is further stated. He was even found to have possessed a press pass.
Rokka was twice arrested on drugs-elated charges, in 2036 BS and 2042 BS, and served altogether five years in prison. But that did not deter him and he ended up becoming a top hashish supplier, it is learnt.
He amassed wealth through the contraband business, and the 13 ropani of land where the factory lies belongs to him. “The land alone flaunts Rokka´s wealth,” said Silwal. “He must have stashed away most of his assets abroad.”
Silwal added that correspondence has already been initiated with police in several countries to trace the possible assets.
Rokka also owns 21 ropanis of land in Dhading where he employs hundreds of farmers to grow marijuana, officials said, adding that he also has a narcotics quality checking lab outside Kathmandu Valley.
Rokka´s standing marijuana crops are often visited by foreign parties whom he has been supplying his ´A1´ quality hashish. Hashish is a form of marijuana.
“Because of quality consistency, Rokka has the stature to ask any price,” said NDCLEU officials.
The officials said that the special operation missed its parallel target of arresting potential foreign racketeers working with Rokka.
However, Govinda Kumar Rokka, 48, Manajit Gharti Magar, 60, and Nagendra Thapa, 30, all close aides of Rokka, were arrested.