Break Drug Networks


Catching a small fry here and there would not stop drug trade
The Supreme Court’s observation that drug trade is affecting the youth should find resonance in Goa where more and more young persons are being found involved in their trade and consumption. The bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and M R Shah that made this observation dismissed the appeal filed by a convict against the verdict of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The convict was found in possession of 1 kg heroin and sentenced to jail for 15 years under the provision of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act. The bench justified a longer jail term for the convict saying such a discretion has to be used in the interest of the society. Drug dealers were “instruments” in inflicting serious damages upon vulnerable young persons. The verdict treats the problem with a tough attitude. We need to be unsparing and relentless in Goa as drug addiction among youth is growing.
Smuggling of and trafficking in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances are organized activities of gangs of the underworld. The drugs that flow in Goa come from the gangs that have national and international networks. The Goa police have been catching persons in possession of drugs, but they have not been able to lay their hands upon the ringleaders. The ringleaders might elude the Goa police as they are not based in the state. However, the Goa police can work with the police of other states and destroy the underworld drug networks. The Goa police must not restrict itself to collecting evidence to get the person found in possession of drugs punished, but they should also collect information from these men about the supply network. Unless the networks are disabled narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances would continue to flow in Goa, which means in the future more and more youth would be sucked into trade and consumption. The Goa government must break the underworld networks in order to save Goan youth.
Of course, the law is weak in certain respects. The persons found in possession of drugs get out too soon even if convicted. Then there are weak prosecution cases that lead to acquittal. It is common to find repeat offenders among drug convicts. Drug trafficking in Goa is done by foreigners as well as people from the state and other states of India. Without their inter-linkage, drug trade is not possible. There are allegations of officials of local police stations giving patronage to drug dealers in lieu of handsome commission or bribe. Goa is a small state. People in a village or neighbourhood are more likely to know the activities of each other. The police can collect all the information about drug dealers if they want. There have been instances of drugs being peddled near educational institutions. The consumption of drugs which was hitherto restricted to the coastal zone has now percolated to the hinterland. Besides, there have been several cases of people growing drugs in their backyards.
The Supreme Court’s strong and tough attitude towards drug peddlers has a message for the law enforcement agencies. They need to do more to control the menace and prevent more people from falling prey to the drugs. Drug addiction has a deleterious effect on consumers. The agencies must go after the underworld networks that supply drugs to Goa and recruit persons to carry the same in camouflaged bags for distribution to the addicts. The Goa police have to remember that there are global networks that link the cultivation, manufacture, distribution and sale of drugs. Global heroin originates in Asia and is distributed worldwide. The scale of the illicit business is obvious from the fact that as far back as 2008 the heroin seizures in the world reached a record level of 73.7 metric tons. According to a United Nations report, most of the heroin was seized in the Near and Middle East and South-West Asia (39 per cent of the global total), South-East Europe (24 per cent) and Western and Central Europe (10 per cent). The roadmap for the Goa police is clear. It is obvious that drug trade cannot be curbed by curbing it in Goa alone.