May 03, 2023

From Splash to Hash


From Splash to Hash
Svetlana Varganova sightseeing in 2016. Wikimedia Commons.

Svetlana Varganova, 59, a former member of the USSR swimming team and an Olympic silver medalist, has been arrested in the state of Goa, India, on suspicion of selling drugs.

According to The Indian Express, Varganova was arrested on April 14 in the village of Arambol after being under surveillance for some time by the Indian Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), due to reports of a Russian cartel operating in Arambol and adjacent Goa. Further investigation identified that a local resident, Akash, was also involved. Akash was arrested on April 28. A former Russian policeman named Andre, whom the NCB has described as the "kingpin" of the operation, was arrested the same day.

An official from the NCB reported that Varganova has been living in India for several years. "She supplied narcotics to foreign nationals only. She also had a hookah bar set up at home where foreigners could come and consume drugs," the official said.

The Indian Express described the inventory of seized drugs as "88 blots of LSD, 8.8g of cocaine, 242.5g charas [a strain of cannabis resin popular in India], 1.440kg of [cannabis], 16.49g of hash oil, 410g of hash cake, 2g of methamphetamine and MDMA." Over $7,000 in cash – in a mixture of rupees, US dollars and Thai baht – were also seized, as were fake identity documents.

Meduza reported that the Russian embassy in India is investigating the event.

Varganova represented the USSR in the 1980 Summer Olympics, winning a silver medal in the 200-meter breaststroke with a time of 2:29.61. She also held the world record in this event in 1979.

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