DRI and Coast Guard seize 218 kg of heroin in mid-sea drug bust
New Delhi, May 20, 2022
In a mid-sea drug bust, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) and the Indian Coast Guard (ICG), in a joint operation, seized 218 kg of heroin from two boats intercepted by them off the coast of Lakshadweep Islands on May 18.
The DRI had launched an operation after it developed specific intelligence over a period of several months that two Indian boats would be sailing from the coast of Tamil Nadu and would receive narcotics in huge quantity somewhere in the Arabian Sea, during the second or third week of May, an official press release said.
Accordingly, a joint operation of DRI with ICG, codenamed Operation Khojbeen was launched on May 7.
Under the operation, Coast Guard ship Sujeet, with DRI officials on board, maintained a close watch near the Exclusive Economic Zone. After several days of continuous search and monitoring amidst very rough seas, two suspected boats, “Prince” and “Little Jesus”, were noticed moving towards India.
Both the Indian boats were intercepted by officers of ICG and DRI on May 18 off the coast of Lakshadweep Islands. On questioning some of the crew members in the boats confessed that they had received heroin in huge quantity on high sea and that they had concealed it in both the boats. Both the boats were then escorted to Kochi for further proceedings, a press release from the Ministry of Defence said.
"Thorough search of both the boats was carried out at the Coast Guard District Headquarters at Kochi, which resulted in recovery of 218 packets of 1 kg each of heroin. The seizure proceedings under the provisions of NDPS Act,1985 are currently being undertaken by the DRI. Follow up searches are taking place at various locations and further investigation is in progress," it said.
"The operation was meticulously planned and executed by DRI and ICG and entailed extensive surveillance in the rough seas over a period of several days. Seized drug appears to be of high-grade heroin and its value in the international illicit market is estimated to be over Rs. 1,526 crore. In the recent past, ICG and DRI have undertaken some significant anti-drug trafficking operations.
"This is the fourth major drug bust by DRI in the past one month. Earlier, DRI recovered 205.6 kg of heroin from a commercial import consignment of gypsum powder at the Kandla port on 20.04.2022, 396 kg of thread (laced with heroin) at Pipavav port on 29.04.2022, and 62 kg heroin at Air Cargo Complex, IGI New Delhi on 10.05.2022, totally valued at approximately Rs. 2500 crores in international illicit market.
Since April 2021, DRI has seized more than 3,800 kg of heroin valued at approximately Rs. 26,000 crore in the international illicit market, including seizure of 3,000 kg heroin at Mundra in September 2021, 293 kg heroin at Nhava Sheva Port in July 2021, 34 kg heroin at Tughlaqabad, New Delhi in February 2022, apart from the multiple seizures of heroin from air passengers. In addition, more than 350 kg of cocaine valued at approximately Rs. 3,500 crore in the international illicit market were seized by the DRI during this period, including the largest haul of 303 kg cocaine from a container at Tuticorin port in April 2021.
"ICG, on the other hand, has recovered about 3 tons of narcotics worth approximately Rs. 6,200 crore in different operations in the past three years bringing the total drug haul till date to Rs. 12,206 crore. The notable cases include apprehension of Sri Lankan boat Shenaya Duwa and Ravihansi, both of which were apprehended with drugs and arms viz. AK-47 and pistols, Iranian boat Jumma, Pak boat Al Huseni and Al Haj recently.
"The joint crusade of ICG and DRI against transnational drug trafficking networks has been successful in disrupting the inflow of drugs in the country through maritime routes," the release added.