Panaji, Feb 4 (IANS) Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Tuesday denied the existence of a drug mafia in the state, even as official documents tabled in the state legislative assembly revealed that in 2018-2019 the state police booked one narcotics related case every alternate day.
Sawant, however, told the Goa legislative assembly in a written reply that since Goa is a tourism destination drugs could be “smuggled” into the state.
“There is no information on existence of a drug mafia in Goa. However, Goa being a tourist destination, narcotic drugs could be smuggled in Goa for trade, consumption and transit. The drug dealers/suspects involved in narcotic activities operate in a clandestine and well organized manner,” Sawant told the legislative assembly in response to a question from Leader of Opposition Digambar Kamat.
In a written reply to another question from Congress MLA Aleixo Reginaldo on Tuesday, Sawant said that in 2018-19, 441 cases related to narcotics offences were registered in various police stations across the state, which amounts to one drug-related offence every two days.
“Narcotic drugs are not freely available in the state as police keep a sharp eye on anti-social elements. During the process of such surveillance, different kinds of chemical and non-chemical drugs are seized by District, Anti Narcotics Cell and Crime Branch,” Sawant said in his written reply.
The Chief Minister said the Goa government has a zero tolerance policy towards drugs and to create a strong deterrent impact against the drug activities, the drug-prone areas were being kept under continuous surveillance.
“Bars and restaurants and shacks along the drug-prone belt are subjected to surprise checks. To create a strong deterrent impact against the drug activities, the drug-prone areas are kept under continuous surveillance,” Sawant said.
Goa is one of the top beach tourism destinations in the country, but over the years the state has also been popular as a destination for narco-tourism. In 2018, Goa attracted nearly seven million tourists, half a million of which were foreign nationals.