Drug-running by locals turning Goa into a ‘narco-tourism’ hotspot

Though it is generally believed that drugs came to Goa with the hippies six decades ago, now the involvement of locals has given a boost to this illegal trade. The police is facing a challenge to crackdown on it and break the chains of suppliers.

Ganja, which is very easily available in the coastal state, is grown not only in the forest areas, but also in apartments. Many such persons cultivating ganja were arrested in the past, including foreigners.

While ganja and charas have much flow, hashish oil, cocaine, LSD, ecstasy tablets, MDMA, heroin, methamphetamine are also available in the state.

Nidhin Valsan, Superintendent of Police (Crime Branch), told IANS that foreigners and others bring drugs to Goa from Delhi and Mumbai. “They mostly use railways to enter Goa. In the past we have registered cases, wherein accused persons were bringing drugs in trains,” he said.

“Apart from ganja and charas, they also bring LSD, ecstasy tablets, MDMA etc. We are keeping a close watch on their activities,” he said.

He said that so far there is no case of the ‘dark web’ being used for the drug trade. “Though there is no such case, but our cyber crime police is keeping a watch on such activities and we are spreading awareness of the ill effects of drugs in schools and public places,” Valsan said.

He said the Goa police is coordinating with other states to act against the flow of drugs. “We even follow up the old cases and see the involvement of habitual accused persons. We leave no stone unturned to eradicate drugs from the state,” Valsan said.

There are many cases where tourists visiting the state were arrested for growing ganja. In 2018 a Russian couple was arrested for growing marijuana inside their rented apartment in the beach village of Anjuna in North Goa. In 2019, a four-member Russian gang was arrested on the same charge and in 2020 yet another Russian national was arrested from Morjim in North Goa for growing marijuana in rented premises.

It is believed that six decades ago drugs entered the coastal state along with the hippies. Since then Goa continues to be a haven for narcotics. Many beaches of Goa were thronged by the hippies earlier and now domestic tourists too visit Goa and fall prey to drug peddlers.

The coastal state has emerged as a haven for the narcotics trade, with drug peddlers and suppliers changing their modus operandi.

“People know that drugs are not good for health, but they fall prey to it when they come here to have a good time. It becomes difficult to check every route, as you never know which route drug suppliers will take,” a senior police officer said on condition of anonymity.

“Is it possible to check each and every passenger in a train, who comes here?,” he questioned.

He said now that the locals’ involvement is increasing in the drug trade, there should not be political interference in taking action.

Sources informed that most of the drugs are smuggled on trains from Delhi and Mumbai.

On August 21 this year, the state Crime Branch sleuths had arrested a Nigerian woman, who allegedly tried to smuggle drugs to Goa by concealing the consignment worth Rs 15,10,000 in her sandals.

She had arrived from Delhi by train carrying the drugs. Such methods are used to transport narcotics into Goa.

According to official records, 168 cases in 2017, 222 cases in 2018, 219 cases in 2019, 148 cases in 2020, and 121 cases in 2021 have been registered under the NDPS Act.

According to sources, the Goa police in the last 10 months has arrested more than 24 foreign nationals, of which the majority are Nigerian nationals.

During this period, the police arrested around 116 alleged drug peddlers, out of which 31 were residents of Goa, 62 were from outside Goa and 24 were foreign nationals.

In the last 10 months, the police have seized a variety of drugs weighing over 140 kg. Even hashish oil, charas and other drugs such as cocaine, LSD, ecstasy tablets, MDMA, heroin, methamphetamine etc were seized.

Last month the police arrested a woman from Jharkhand for allegedly possessing 6 kg ganja valued at Rs 6 lakh. She has been identified as Muskan Karuwa, aged 19.

The police said the raid was a follow-up of a case that was registered by the Anti Narcotic Cell on November 26.

Taking the drug menace seriously, the Goa police have now asked pub and restaurant owners to inform them about drug consumption and related activities and have launched a WhatsApp group to receive information promptly.

Sources in the police department informed that more teams will be deployed in the coastal areas in plainclothes during Christmas and New Year.

A legislative report tabled in 2013 on the police-politician-drug mafia nexus in Goa had exposed just how deep rooted the drug mafia network is in the police and political hierarchies.

Goa is increasingly known as a narco-tourism hotspot and many arrive in the coastal state with the intention of ‘trade’ and ‘consumption’. In 2020, the BJP government in Goa was reportedly considering legalising the cultivation of marijuana or cannabis for medicinal purposes. However, after facing opposition the plan was dropped.

20221217-172404

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