In a near 10-day operation involving "stealthy" trailing, the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) has recovered drugs, including 100 kg heroin and guns from a Sri Lankan boat, with the contraband changing hands from a Pakistani dhow on the high seas. Six crew members were apprehended in connection with the seizure following the operation, which started on November 17 based on intelligence inputs.
The boat was identified on November 24 off the coast here, it said. ICG said in a release it received credible information from intelligence agencies on an illegal consignment of narcotic drugs to be smuggled in India through the sea route.
The information further revealed that the consignment was being transhipped through a Sri Lankan boat. Subsequently, five Coast Guard ships were deployed to apprehend the smugglers, even as two aircraft were involved in air-sea coordinated search, it said.
It said ICG ships carried out an extensive search for the boat in the most probable area as per the intelligence input. The 'suspicious' Lankan vessel was identified south of Tuticorin on Tuesday and "ICGS Vaibhav stealthily followed the boat and boarded it at the opportune moment at about 10 NM (nautical miles) off Kanyakumari" last evening, the release said.
"Search of the suspicious boat revealed 99 packets of heroin, 20 boxes of synthetic drugs, five 9 mm pistols and a thuraya satellite phone set."
"The drugs and weapons unearthed were hidden in an unapproachable location in the boat. During initial questioning, the crew members revealed that the drugs were transferred onto the Sri Lankan vessel Shenaya Duwa on the high seas by a Pakistani dhow from Karachi,"the release added. The drugs were meant to be sent to western countries and Australia, it said, adding a joint interrogation of the apprehended crew members will be undertaken on the vessel reaching Tuticorin.
"Indian Coast Guard is committed to thwart any attempt to smuggle contraband, drug and weapon into our country," it said. Meanwhile, the Coast Guard said in a tweet that the "swift and coordinated" operation led to the seizure of 100 kg of heroin, among others.