NCB busts drug cartel in Goa; Olympic medal-winning Russian swimmer, her compatriot among three held

The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) has busted an international drug cartel in Goa and arrested two Russians — a 1980 Olympic silver medal-winning woman swimmer and a former policeman — along with an Indian, besides seizing different drugs, an official said on April 29.

The operation was conducted by the NCB’s Goa unit over the past two weeks, he said.

“Based on a tip-off that a Russian drug cartel was actively operating in Arambol and its adjoining areas in Goa, a probe was launched. As per the intelligence inputs, a Russian woman named S Varganova was found involved in the supply of drugs to foreign nationals. During the investigation, we also received information that led to the identification of a local man named Akash,” the NCB official said.

“During further probe, it was learnt that Akash was part of a larger network and he was working on the directions of a Russian person, who acted as the kingpin of the cartel,” he said.

“Immediately after that, Akash was put under discreet surveillance. After extensive intelligence-based operations, a Russian national named Andre was apprehended and 20 LSD blots were seized from him. During his spot interrogation, he revealed that he was growing hydroponic weed at his local residence,” the anti-drug agency said.

Thereafter, tree pots of hydroponic weed plants were recovered from his house, the official said.

During the entire operation, different kinds of drugs, including 88 LSD blots, 8.8 grams cocaine, 242.5 grams charas, 1.440 kg hydroponic weed, 16.49 grams hash oil, 410 grams hash cake — were seized along with ₹4.88 lakh cash, he said, adding that the NCB also recovered Indian and foreign currencies, fake documents, IDs and material required to grow hydroponic weed.

“The arrested Russian woman, S Varganova, is a 1980 Olympic silver medallist in swimming, while Andre is a former policeman from Russia. The latter has been operating a drug cartel in Goa since a long time. He had visited many cities to spread his network and had been managing the well-spread network of street peddlers,” the NCB said.

Along with the Russian nationals, local citizen Akash has also been arrested, the official said, adding that further investigation was on.


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