INDIA. Mumbai: The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) in a recent air-sea coordinated operation, seized 300 kg of heroin worth Rs. 3,000 crore and five AK-47 rifles with 1,000 live rounds, from Srilankan boats in Lakshadweep sea, bordering India, the Maldives, and Sri Lanka.
Director-General of the Indian Coast Guard Krishnaswamy Natarajan in a video message to the “Transcontinental Times” said that the operation was done on March 15 close to Minicoy Island and the inspection of the Sri Lankan vessels was carried out on March 20 onwards.
“On March 15, intelligence input was received regarding a suspicious boat of foreign origin likely to be engaged in drug trafficking in the Arabian sea. On receipt and corroboration of input, a swift air-sea coordinated operation by the Indian Coast Guard was launched immediately to detect the suspicious boats. Based on the information, five ships were diverted and an operation was conducted with aircraft in and around that area,” Natarajan said. “Our dedicated search team has recovered 300 kg of heroin, 5 AK-47, 1,000 live rounds from the vessel, joint interrogation is being done by agencies,” he added.
According to the coast guard, patrolling ICG units detected three suspicious boats off Minicoy Islands and intercepted them upon which recovery was made from Sri Lankan Fishing Boat “Ravihansi”. The estimated value in the international market of the narcotics recovered is approximately Rs.3,000 crore. All the three boats along with the 19 crew were escorted to Vizhinjam in Kerala for joint investigation.
“This was the second major anti-drug trafficking operation undertaken by ICG on the west coast of India within a fortnight. On March 05, ICG ships and aircraft, in a coordinated operation in Lakshadweep seas, had successfully apprehended Sri Lankan boat “Akarsha Duwa” with 6 crew off Minicoy island. The crew had admitted of carrying 200 kg of high-grade Heroin and 60 kg Hashish which was jettisoned at sea on the sighting of ICG ships on patrol,” the Coast Guard said.
In a similar operation in November 2020, ICG had apprehended Sri Lankan boat “Shenaya Duwa” off Kanyakumari, carrying 120 kg narcotics worth approximately Rs. 1,000 crore and five weapons.
The past year has proved to be a big setback for drug traffickers at sea as ICG has successfully seized about 1.6 tons of narcotics worth approx Rs. 4900 crore. The total drug haul done by ICG since inception amounts to Rs. 10,952 crore, DG, ICG Krishnaswamy Natarajan added.