Sabre-toothed NCB could shred Goa drug trade

String of arrests gets Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) office in Goa upgraded from sub-zonal to zonal with more staff
Drugs being counterchecked before being disposed.
Drugs being counterchecked before being disposed.

With 21 cases booked in two years and 47 individuals arrested – 34 Indians and the remaining foreigners – the Home Ministry has approved the upgrade of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) office in Goa from sub-zonal to zonal.

“Two districts of Maharashtra and Karnataka have been added to the Goa zone and we should be moving to a new premises soon with staff being augmented,” stated a member of the Goa unit of NCB.

Drugs being counterchecked before being disposed.
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Seven Nigerians were arrested in 2021 along with nationals from Congo, Switzerland and South Africa. The year 2022-23 saw four from Russia, one from Guinea, one from Britain, one each from Nigeria and Kenya – the last two caught with a haul of 1.009 kg of cocaine.

“I don’t know whether you can call Goa a drug destination, but the fact is that most suppliers in Goa target tourists and, therefore, they are rotational customers and that makes arrest difficult,” observes a senior officer of the NCB overseeing the Goa drug control operations.

Marijuana seized during a raid in Goa.
Marijuana seized during a raid in Goa.

The NCB drug haul from 2021 till date is witnessing a shift from cannabis and hashish to chemical drugs with the haul of 1017.8 gm of cocaine in 2023 being the highest.

Methamphetamine, Amphetamine, MDMA, Mephedrone, LSD, Psilocybin are the new chemicals slowly replacing hashish and ganja, and with that, a switch in the manner in which NCB officials are attempting to thwart the problem.

Drug haul during one raid of the 2023 season in Goa
Drug haul during one raid of the 2023 season in Goa
Drugs being counterchecked before being disposed.
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NCB officials in the country are now using the PITNDPS Act of 1988 to deter individuals who they believe are either directly or indirectly involved, thus making them think twice.

“We were the first to detain a Nigerian in the Colvale jail for a year and, subsequently, the police detained another local under the same act,” disclosed an NCB officer.

Foolproof method of drug disposal as  mandated by law.
Foolproof method of drug disposal as mandated by law.

The Act, according to the officer, helps detain individuals for dealing in any activities in narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances other than those provided in sub-clauses (i) to (iii); handling or letting any premises for the carrying on of any of the activities; financing, directly or indirectly, any of the aforementioned activities; abetting or conspiring in the furtherance of or in support of doing any of the aforementioned activities; harbouring persons engaged in any of the aforementioned activities.

Drugs being counterchecked before being disposed.
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Amit Ghawate, IRS officer of 2008 batch, oversees the operation of the Goa zone of the NCB, and his team has discreetly managed to unsettle individuals who have been trying to dabble in the sale of drugs.

“The NDPS Act is not about just catching a person selling drugs, but gives us teeth to break the neck of dealers through various provisions and one of them is to freeze the assets of individuals we have reason to believe are into the sale of drugs,” stated an officer of the NCB.

The NDPS Act is not about just catching a person selling drugs, but gives us teeth to break the neck of dealers through various provisions and one of them is to freeze the assets of individuals we have reason to believe are into the sale of drugs

NCB officer

“We got an order from the Competent Authority from Mumbai to freeze the assets of Rocky Fernandes from Anjuna in 2022. Chapter 5 (a) of the NDPS Act permits us to freeze assets acquired within a period of six years with relevant proof,” disclosed an officer.

The NCB in Goa is not just about stopping drugs in Goa or the transit of drugs from Goa, but to establish new systems that bring transparency when dealing with related problems.

Drugs being counterchecked before being disposed.
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“The Goa NCB unit, in 2022, introduced, for the first time, a mandated drug disposal system which was thereafter followed by the local police,” stated an NCB official.

“The aim of the NCB is to work along with the Anti-Narcotic Cells (ANC) of all the state police units. We do set guidelines and expect others to follow or improve, but the aim is to stop drugs from killing society,” counters an officer.

With Goa being known as a drug destination, and the government preferring to think otherwise, a saber-toothed NCB could well be the answer Goa has been waiting for.

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