The interception of a Sri Lankan boat carrying 300 kilograms of heroin, five AK-47 guns and ammunition off the coast of Vizhinjam in Kerala points to ISI-sponsored narco-terrorism flourishing in Lanka, Indian security officials told CNN-News18.
The Indian Coast Guard and the Narcotics Control Bureau had seized the boat carrying the drugs and arms consignment on March 25, the second such major seizure in March.
Officials, on the condition of anonymity, said Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI has created sleeper cells in Sri Lanka and other neighbouring countries, and exports drugs to foment trouble. The drug income is then used to fund illegal activities, including extremist activities, they said.
In the March 25 seizure, Coast Guard and the NCB had found heroin worth Rs 3,000 crore stashed in the boat along with AK-47 rifles and 1,000 rounds of 9mm ammunition. “A number of incriminating documents were also seized from the occupants of the vessel,” said the NCB, adding that six Sri Lankan nationals were arrested.
The agency said that investigations so far have revealed that an unknown vessel carried the heroin and arms consignment from Chabahar Port, Iran, and handed it over to the Sri Lankan fishing boat, Ravihansi, in the high seas near Lakshadweep. Ravihansi then attempted to traffic the consignment to Sri Lanka when the Indian authorities intercepted it.
Intelligence inputs and the investigations so far have indicated that a Pakistan-based drug trafficking network is involved in the current seizure.
Officials said that earlier, Sri Lankan authorities, too, had seized drugs worth Rs 2.5 billion that had been smuggled from the Gwadar port, which is controlled by China.
Pointing to a nexus between China and Pakistan, they said smuggling of such huge quantities of drugs was not possible without the support of China.
Sources said that one Dubai-based smuggler is working for this ISI-sponsored and China-controlled drug smuggling racket, and the money from this has been used to create unrest, and fund extremism. They said the money was used for the 2019 Sri Lanka Easter bombings, fuelling the farmer protest in India, and for sending weapons to Punjab and Jammu border from Pakistan.
According to Rakesh Asthana, the Director-General of the NCB, this network has Pakistani nationals based in Sri Lanka, Maldives, Dubai, and East Africa to assist the kingpins in Pakistan.