Mafia wars rule drug trade in Goa’s beach belts
Although a number of drug mafias are said to be operating in the tourism hotspots of North Goa's coastal areas, the police have only managed to crackdown on the Nigerian cartel operating in the Calangute area. Out of the 50-odd drug raids all over Goa this year, the maximum-17-have taken place in Calangute, while areas like Anjuna, Morjim and Arambol, considered strongholds of the drug mafia, have seen only a handful of raids. Even these raids have only netted the small fish, with the Russian, Israeli and local drug lords apparently enjoying immunity, allegedly due to a police-drug mafia nexus.The Russians and Israelis deal in drugs like MDMA, ecstasy and charas, according to sources. The Nigerians allegedly control the cocaine rackets. A former police inspector at the Anjuna police station, Ashish Shirodkar, along with six other policemen, has already been arrested and suspended for his role in the drug mafia-police nexus which was first exposed around two years ago. But the nexus continues, according to sources, who claim that drug dealers provide information to the police about the tourists, mostly foreigners, who buy drugs from them. From P1
The police then "raid" the rented accommodation of the tourists and catch them with the drugs. The tourists are then forced to pay a large amount of money, usually in euros or dollars, to the police in order to escape imprisonment. In return, the drug dealers and peddlers are allowed to operate with impunity.
In drug circles, the Chapora market area is also allegedly the 'drug market' of Goa, where drug dealers and couriers meet to discuss deals in one or the other bar or restaurant there.
Towards the north, the Russians have virtually taken strong control of the trade in the Morjim-Arambol belt. For over half-a-decade their presence has been strong in the area and they seem to have managed to involve some local youngsters to push the drugs. Soft drugs are easily available in the area, but for hard drugs for groups, it would take an hour-and-a-half to procure, say sources.
But with Calangute police conducting 17 raids, arresting 18 alleged drug peddlers, most of them Nigerians, since the new BJP-led government took charge in March, the drug mafia comprising Nigerians and locals is reportedly on the run. Calangute police have also arrested a large number of Nigerians with fake or expired visas, all of whom are said to be involved in the drug mafia.
Despite this, the police have not been able to catch the big fish.
Calangute PI Nolasco Raposo said the Nigerians are well-networked over the internet and phone and even while interrogating the arrested Nigerians, it is very difficult to extract information from them about the source of the cocaine. "The drugs are brought in by Nigerians themselves and then distributed to other Nigerians," Raposo said, adding that most of their tip-offs have come through local drug addicts who have been falling into the police net.
Sources said that some of these local drug addicts provide police with information about the Nigerians when the Nigerians demand payment for the drugs supplied to them.
Police have arrested Abel, Dilip and Tyronne-three big names in pushing drugs-in the last few months, besides some drug addicts who were caught for petty thefts. "The drug addict needs money to buy drugs everyday. He will look for an opportunity to pounce on a tourist or snatch a bag," Raposo said, explaining the reason for the many petty thefts reported on the beaches. "If you see their plight in the lock-up, when they don't get drugs, it's very pitiable," he added.With the Calangute police turning on the heat, the Nigerians have moved into villages like Parra and Siolim where they are still able to find rental accommodation. It is learnt that nobody in the coastal villages of Candolim or Calangute now rent out premises to Nigerians because of their involvement in the narcotics trade. Said an anti-narcotics cell official, "The people should stop renting out accommodation to drug peddlers. They all know who the drug peddlers are, especially in Anjuna, but nobody informs the police." [TOI]