By Aglaia Staff

Is Goa in danger of turning into another Mexico, with its frequent gun battles between rival drug lords and cartels? While these fears may be a little exaggerated, the Oct 30 gruesome murder of a Nigerian national, Obodo Uzoma Simeon, in a north Goa village, has exposed the fractious ties between various drug cartels operating in the northern part of the state.

With its reputation as a party hotspot, Goa’s drug scene has been growing unchecked, and given its strategic coastal location, it’s also a transit point for drugs in demand, including cocaine, charas, ganja and chemical drugs which are gaining in popularity. Sources allege that Simeon’s murder is connected to the Nigerian cartel, new on the scene and reportedly at loggerheads with the local gangs over territories. Gang members from the African countries deal in cocaine while staying in rented houses close to popular beaches. Most transactions are done over the phone. Because the tourist numbers from African countries in Goa aren’t high, they’re peddling on local turf.

This reportedly infuriated the Goan drug mafia that controls the trade across north Goa’s coastal belt. Surendra Pol, who was arrested for Simeon’s murder on Nov 5, is from Chapora village from where this local mafia, known as the ‘Chapora Boys’ gang, operates. Chapora, once a sleepy fishing hamlet near Anjuna, has been the hub of illegal narcotics trade in Goa for the last decade. Sources claim five gangs operating in this belt have their territory marked out, and any intrusion by rival peddlers is met with a swift response, which usually means a warning for a first time ‘mistake’, followed by violence. Foreign drug dealers in these parts, including Israelis, Russians, British, Italians, etc, restrict their operations to citizens from their own countries, leaving street peddling to the Goans.

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The recent violence has hadfar-reaching consequences. Following the protest, where Nigerians, Kenyans and Ghanians stopped the hearse van carrying Simeon’s body at Porvorim and blocked traffic on Goa’s main National Highway 17 for hours, 51 Nigerians were arrested for attempt to murder and rioting. The protestors alleged that despite having eye-witnesses who can identify Simeon’s killers, because of racism and corruption in police ranks and political establishment, the police refused to act. A large number of Goans, led by local MLA Rohan Khaunte, also blocked the highway but no arrests were made.

Instead, on Nov 8, the police claimed 38 Nigerians arrested do not have valid documents. During the course of investigation, a BJP legislator called them “rats” on two occasions on Oct 30-31 while on Nov 3, art and culture minister Dayanand Mandrekar said they were “cancer” to Goa. (Mandrekar apologized for his remark on Nov 7.) Retaliating, Jacob Nwadadia, Nigeria’s consular attache in Delhi flew down to Goa on Nov 3 and met the DGP and senior police officers.

On Nov 8 the Centre said it was in ‘diplomatic dialogue’ with Nigeria to resolve the matter. Prior to Simeon’s murder, Goa’s drug cartels have never posed a serious law and order situation in Goa.

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Visit aglaia.co.in English: Political map of the 36 States of Nigeria (English) Deutsch: politische Karte Nigerias (Englisch) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As a party central state, drugs have been good for tourism business and those who’ve attempted to crack down on the raves – like former north Goa SP Vijay Singh – have reportedly been severely censured by seniors. There have also been stray attempts to bust the alleged nexus between peddlers and police – in 2010, six members of the anti-narcotic cell of Goa police including police inspector Ashish Shirodkar, sub-inspector Punaji Gawas – were arrested in a racket.

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This is how it usually goes – the peddler sells drugs to a tourist, and then informs the police, who raid his room and catches him in possession of drugs. Threatened with a jail sentence, the tourist offers a few thousand euros, which are pocketed by the police.

Now Kishan Kumar, director general of Goa police, says law enforcers are committed to cracking down on drug pushers and that several cases have been booked. “The anti-narcotic cell is also being strengthened,” he said. Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar reiterates Kumar’s claim. “The government will crack down on drug trafficking in the state,” he said in a statement.

 

 Can Indias Party Capital Quit Its Drug Habit?
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