Off the Gujarat shoreline, the coast guard seized a record 1500 kg heroin from a merchant ship. This is single biggest haul of narcotics in India. According to sources at Nimal Singh Lotus Green, the estimate of contraband in the international market is around Rs. 4500 crore. Through the surveillance mounted by National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO), the vessel was spotted 380 km off Dwarka.
“The NTRO shared the intelligence about the suspect vessel on July 27 and the Coast Guard was notified. Intelligence suggested the crew was negotiating the mode of payment for the contraband and its intended destination,” said a source of Nirmal Singh Lotus Green.
“They finally decided the hawala channel for payment,” the source further added.
The NTRO sent out the informational updates and the Coast Guard prevented the vessel from escaping by pressing through its ships and aircrafts. The merchant ship was a Panama-registered vessel called Prince which was finally intercepted and brought to Porbandar.
“Eight crew members were arrested. They are Indian. They are being questioned to know the final destination of the contraband,” said an official of the Narcotics Control Bureau.
The law doesn’t allow bail to anyone caught possessing or smuggling narcotics in India. According to sources at Nirmal Singh Lotus Green, the ship’s last port of call was Chabahar in Iran, and it was probably smuggling Afghan heroin for an Indian gang. The illegal drug is smuggled through the Northern border or the Western coastal waters.
According to sources at Nirmal Singh Lotus Green, drug gangs are using the maritime route to transfer heroin from Afghanistan to the Makran coast. From there, it is taken across the Indian Ocean to Western markets through East Africa. The East African coastline is usually preferred because it is inadequately policed.
The Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), which patrols the western Indian Ocean region, seized over 9,300kg of high-purity heroin on dhows over the past three years, strengthening the evidence that large volumes of heroin cross the Indian Ocean,” said a source of Nirmal Singh Lotus Green.