08 Sep 2017 05:31am IST
Africans still have a strong grip on the drug trade in the State; Control almost 40% of the narcotics market share in North Goa
PANJIM: From the time the swamp of Nigerians in North Goa descended on the Porvorim to Panjim Highway, and kept the body of their countryman in the middle of the road, to spark of violence and riots, the phrase “Nigerian drug menace” has become a part of Goa’s lexicon.
The menace in the North Goa coastal belt continues in the absence of a mechanism to curb the activities of Africans, many of them students, after they are held for breaking the law. It is common knowledge that the majority of them are from Nigeria but with lost passports, establishing the exact identity often becomes a challenge they take advantage of.
Goa neither has a detention centre, nor a mechanism, to deport foreigners from the State if they are found without a valid visa. Taking advantage of the loopholes in the system and in the law, Nigerians, who are believed to take high risks sanguinely, operate their narcotics trade along the Goa coast.
The Nigerians face resistance in every North Goa village, except Parra, on the outskirts of Mapusa, that is found to tolerate them. Villages like Candolim, Siolim, Morjim and Arambol had earlier rejected Nigerians staying in the village.
There are, however, some small pockets in Siolim where Nigerians can be found, as Herald learnt from its investigation.
Nigerians entered the drug trade in Goa in 1990 under the Kenyans and were carriers but eventually started dealing. In 2003-04 there was a war between the Nigerians and Kenyans, where the Kenyans were driven out of the narcotics trade in Goa by the Nigerians.
Prior to that the Kenyans had been the only ones selling cocaine on the Goa coast but this was taken over by Nigerians somewhere in 2004 and since then they are known to be the cocaine kings in North Goa.
The Nigerians now control almost 40 percent of the narcotics market share in North Goa while dealing only in cocaine, and off late, also MDMA.
They also have their hierarchy in this trade which is kept completely under wraps. According to a local, who has studied the drug scene in the coastal belt for over a decade, the Nigerians only deal in cocaine and MDMA. But they have been arrested with organic drugs in small quantities, and this could be deliberate so that they can stay in the country after being arrested and bailed out.
“They get involved in such offences so that the trial will go on for years, and they can freely move in the State as well as country,” he said.
They control the trade right from Keri to Sinquerim in North Goa and are mostly in Calangute, Baga, Candolim, South Anjuna and part of Arambol. They offer good rates for the cocaine as no middleman is involved and that is the reason why they have captured a huge market in a short time.
It is learnt that they smuggle cocaine crossing international borders hiding it inside their body. It is learned that at a time each drug carrier person enters the country with 500 grams of cocaine inside him
Calangute Police Inspector Jivba Dalvi said the police have booked almost 10 Nigerians in various offences and strict vigilance has been kept over their activities. “The main hub of Nigerians in Calangute, ‘Simba Bar’, was raided recently, and we arrested a Nigerian who was operating there and also booked the owner of the place under Section 27 (a) of the NDPSC Act,” he said. He mentioned that the Nigerian menace can be eradicated through proactive policing.
Pernem, Police Inspector Uttam Raut Desai said the presence of Nigerians in his jurisdiction did exist but after his posting there, he has curtailed their activities.
“We are trying our best not only to stop the menace but also to eradicate it completely. Our staff is constantly on patrol duty and keeping close watch over their activities on the entire Pernem coast,” he said.
“We cannot blame the mechanism and system but should try to end these decade old illicit activities and that too by foreigners,” Desai said.