Most hospitality businesses and ancillary economic activity faced the disruptive impact of the national lockdown in the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic, but the adverse conditions seem to have had little impact if any on the illegal narcotics trade, which is widely believed to be entrenched in Goa's tourism economy.
Official police statistics reveal nearly 900 drug raids were conducted by the police and other agencies in the pandemic year accounting for over two raids a day.
Calangute, Anjuna and Pernem police jurisdictions accounted for most of these in tourist frequented coastal locales like Baga, Morjim, Arambol.
In the years 2016, 2017 and 2020 the statistics reveal that raids were conducted at the rate of more than two a day. In 2018 and 2019, the rate of raids conducted increased to more than three every day.
In 2016, 898 raids were conducted and it marginally dropped to 818 raids the next year. In 2018 and 2019, drug raids shot up to 1,006 and 1,179 respectively.
The 2020 pandemic year accounted for 891 raids.
Besides the local police stations, the Goa Police's Crime Branch and the Anti-Narcotic Cell (ANC) are the other agencies empowered to conduct raids and prosecute under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1986.
Meanwhile, in the recent truncated budget session of the Goa legislative assembly, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, admitted that the narcotic trade is prevalent as Goa is a tourist destination.
"Narcotic drugs are smuggled into the state for consumption and transit," a written reply filed by Sawant said in response to a query posed by former chief minister Ravi Naik of the Opposition Congress, who himself was embroiled in an alleged police-politician-drug dealer nexus scandal when he was home minister about a decade ago.
The case was investigated by a House Committee but made no progress even after the report indicted his kin and top police officials.