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  India   Crime  29 Feb 2024  Drugs worth Rs 2,000 cr seized off Gujarat coast

Drugs worth Rs 2,000 cr seized off Gujarat coast

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Feb 29, 2024, 2:01 am IST
Updated : Feb 29, 2024, 2:01 am IST

The narcotics seized included 3,089 kg of charas, 158 kg of methamphetamine and 25 kg of morphine

The last big seizure from the high seas was 2,500 kg by the NCB and the Navy off the Kerala coast in May 2023. (Photo: Twitter | @IndiaCoastGuard)
 The last big seizure from the high seas was 2,500 kg by the NCB and the Navy off the Kerala coast in May 2023. (Photo: Twitter | @IndiaCoastGuard)

New Delhi: In the biggest offshore seizure of narcotics in the country, the Indian Navy, in coordination with the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) and the Gujarat police, apprehended a suspicious vessel carrying around 3,300 kg of contraband off the Gujarat coast and arrested five foreigners. The dhow is suspected to have sailed from Chabahar Port in Iran.

The narcotics seized included 3,089 kg of charas, 158 kg of methamphetamine and 25 kg of morphine. The cache is estimated to be worth anything between Rs 1,300 and Rs 2,000 crores in the international market, said NCB director-general S.N. Pradhan. The packets bore the stamp of "Ras Awad Goods Co, produce of Pakistan", the NCB said.

Union home minister Amit Shah called the joint operation by the Navy, NCB and the Gujarat police a "historic success" and a testament to the Modi government's "unwavering commitment to making our nation drug-free".

The unregistered fishing boat was intercepted on Tuesday morning in the Arabian Sea from a point about 60 nautical miles from the Indian coast and along the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL).

"Based on intelligence received from the Indian Navy’s maritime surveillance aircraft, which was corroborated with inputs from the NCB, a mission-deployed Indian Navy's warship was pressed into action to intercept a suspicious dhow en route to the Indian waters with sizeable contraband," said the Indian Navy in a statement.

The Indian Navy units successfully located, tracked and intercepted the suspicious boat at sea. The Navy's Marcos boarded the dhow, which resulted in the largest seizure of narcotics in quantity in recent times. Subsequently, the boat was towed by the warship to the nearest Indian port to hand over the crew and contraband to the law enforcement agencies.

NCB deputy director-general (operations) Gyaneshwar Singh said the fishing boat has been brought to Porbandar and the five nationals who were onboard have been arrested.

"They could either be Pakistani or Iranians. However, we have recovered no IDs from them. A Thuraya satellite phone and four mobile phones have been seized from the arrested men," Mr Singh said.

The DDG said the drugs packets had the name of a Pakistani food company and hence they "suspect" the hand of that country in mobilising this cache whose destination is being probed.

The traffickers onboard vessels carrying drugs keep in touch with buyers on the land and once they strike a deal, the consignment can land anywhere up to the southernmost tip of India, the NCB officials said.

Mr Singh said this operation was codenamed "Sagarmanthan-1" and the joint teams have been working on inputs for the "last few weeks".

"This is the biggest offshore narcotics seizure in the country to date. We have seen that drugs smuggling has increased through the maritime route over the last few years and hence we are jointly working with other government agencies like the Navy, Coast Guard, customs, etc. to intercept such activities," said Mr Pradhan.

"The smugglers and drugs operators use the Arabian Sea to exploit the Indian coastline, which is vulnerable. It is part of the grand design to destabilise the country using drugs," Mr Pradhan added.

The last big seizure from the high seas was 2,500 kg by the NCB and the Navy off the Kerala coast in May 2023.

"This operation is significant, not only in terms of quantity and cost of the seized contraband, but also highlights the collaborative efforts between the Indian Navy and the NCB for disruption of the illegal narcotics smuggling routes, which emanate from the Makran coast and flow towards various Indian Ocean Region countries," said the Indian Navy.

The successfully coordinated mission reaffirms the strong commitment and resolve of the Indian Navy in thwarting attempts to use the seas as a medium for illegal activities, especially in India’s maritime neighbourhood, the Indian Navy statement added.

Tags: narcotics control bureau (ncb), gujarat coast, drug bust
Location: India, Gujarat