“Intimidatory” drug dealing escalates in tourist village; CCTV cameras being planned for the town
Carvoeiro residents and businessowners have joined forces to launch a petition calling for more police reinforcements for the village after witnessing cases of violence and insecurity caused by “a group of drug dealers who are constantly harassing tourists, even in broad daylight”.
The group is said to operate “very aggressively”, approaching people on the streets or even when they are sitting outside bar and restaurant terraces.
Businessowners report being threatened when confronting the alleged drug dealers – there are reports that the drugs are fake -, while several tourists and residents admit they no longer feel safe walking in Carvoeiro, particularly at night.
It is an issue that had already generated concern last summer but which seems to be worsening this year.
Hoping to call attention to the situation, a group of businessowners have launched a petition (both online and in paper) urging authorities to increase policing in the village.
Businessowners believe more GNR officers, particularly from outside of Carvoeiro, are needed. They say local agents are not enough in numbers to be able to carry out their duties effectively.
Although authorities have been alerted and several complaints have been lodged over the years, drug dealers have only become bolder.
Local workers say they feel threatened if they try to intervene to protect tourists, while there are reports that tourists have been “surrounded and forced to buy” what the dealers are selling, another businessowner said.
Concerns are growing that Carvoeiro’s iconic beach square, one of the village’s main attractions, is now becoming a place to avoid, particularly after hours.
“Everyone can feel the bad environment, which makes us rethink coming back here,” a tourist said.
The group of men, some of whom are believed to be as young as 15 years old, are described as “persistent” when approaching tourists as well as “violent”, with businessowners fearing that the popular town, always known for being a family-friendly holiday destination, may become a “no-go area”.
“The police aren’t doing their job”
Staff at local businesses even told the Resident that they have had to defend themselves from constant threats without the help of the authorities “who simply don’t show up”, while a 70-year-old man was reportedly assaulted by a group of five. The Resident has been unable to confirm this case with the GNR.
In July 2022, the same group is said to have “disfigured” an 18-year-old, with the police arriving on the scene “more than an hour later”. Again, the Resident has been unable to confirm this case with the authorities.
One resident has reportedly visited the local GNR station and claims he saw agents “turning the lights off, closing the door and shutting the blinds” to avoid being confronted about this issue.
Other examples of “inaction” have been highlighted, with many retailers and taxi drivers stating that “the police pretend that nothing is going on and don’t do their job”.
The GNR in Lagoa, say locals, often do not answer the phone when they try to call for help. The situation has already been reported to GNR’s regional commander. “We even had to call Silves GNR because officers in Lagoa do not act,” a local worker lamented.
Contacted by the Resident, GNR’s Communications and Public Relations Officer in Faro, Captain António Ramos, said he was neither aware of the petition nor of the situation affecting the local population and tourists, although those behind the petition guarantee they have informed the authorities.
Council praises citizens’ petition
Lagoa mayor Luís Encarnação says he is well aware of the escalating concerns over the lack of policing in Carvoeiro and has praised the citizens’ petition, which he believes will “reinforce the pressure that has already been applied among the competent authorities, both on a regional and national level”.
“This is a very big concern of ours and a problem that we are following very closely,” Encarnação said, stressing that the council has already demanded an urgent reinforcement of policing in the village.
While the mayor stated that a municipal police force is being created to “mitigate this problem and increase security”, he also noted that they will “never have the power to intervene on a criminal level”.
Meanwhile, a project to set up CCTV cameras in many areas of the borough, including Carvoeiro, is being developed – an idea which has also been suggested by businessowners.
The council has also requested a meeting with GNR’s general-commander José Correia to discuss this subject, hopefully in the presence of internal administration minister José Luis Carneiro.