Editor’s Note: The links around the world between tobacco trafficking and human trafficking (and drug trafficking and arms trafficking) are well established. See here, here, here, here, here and here for a few examples.
From: Kuensel Online — Bhutan’s daily news site.
Three arrested for prostitution
By Gyalsten K Dorji
One of who (a repeat offender) was also booked on charges to do with tobacco Tshongdue, Paro Three people were arrested in connection with prostitution on Tuesday, one of who was also later charged with possession of tobacco and tobacco products in excess of permissible quantities, in Tshongdue, Paro.
Police will charge a 26-year -old Bhutanese woman with prostitution, and a 20-year-old Indian man for patronising a prostitute.
Police will also charge a 46-year-old businesswoman, Pem Gyelmo, proprietor of Palden Wangmo tshongkhang, with the offense of promoting prostitution, as the 26-year-old woman and 20-year-old man were engaged in prostitution on her premises, when police raided the shop.
All three offenses will be misdemeanours, as per the penal code, meaning prison sentences between one and less than three years.
The same 46-year-old businesswoman will also be charged with having in her possession smuggled tobacco and tobacco products in excess of the permissible quantity.
A search of the shop revealed 1,600 cigarette packages, over 200 rolls of beedis, and large numbers of various brands of chewing tobacco, most of which was hidden inside a room partition.
Police also seized Nu 72,000 in cash.
Police officials said all evidence would be presented to court and be disposed off in a way the court sees fit.
This offense is punishable with a minimum sentence of felony of the fourth degree, according to the tobacco control Act 2010. A felony of the fourth degree means a prison term of three to less than five years.
The businesswoman is a repeat offender, according to police officials. She had also been arrested and convicted of illegally selling controlled substances in 2009. She served a sentence of six months that year.
This means her offenses will be enhanced, if she is convicted again, as per the penal code.
Police officials said that she had also been charged with promotion of prostitution then. But lack of evidence acquitted her of this charge.
Police officials said that the woman was running a clothes shop as a front for her illegal activities. She maintained a room in the back of her rented accommodation for prostitution.
Police officials claimed that they had the establishment under surveillance for a period of time, after being given anonymous tip offs. Police officials also claimed that they did not have concrete proof or proof beyond reasonable doubt that would have allowed them to obtain a search warrant. This proof was only obtained recently.
This is the first major tobacco bust in Paro since the tobacco control Act was implemented in 2010.
Another case involving army and Drukair officials occurred at Paro airport in March 2011. That case involved the attempted smuggling of one carton of cigarettes.