On 15 March, Intelligence input was received regarding suspicious boat of foreign origin likely to be engaged in drug trafficking in Arabian sea. On receipt and corroboration of input, a swift air-sea coordinated operation by Indian Coast Guard (ICG) was launched immediately to detect the suspicious boats. The Coast Guard ships and aircraft conducted extensive search in the area off Lakshadweep Islands. On 18th Mar, patrolling ICG units detected three suspicious boats off Minicoy Islands and intercepted them. Post boarding, interrogation of crew revealed inconsistent statements. On rummaging of boats, high grade 300 Kgs Heroin and 5 AK-47 rifles with 1000 live rounds were recovered from Sri Lankan Fishing Boat Ravihansi. The estimated value of narcotics in international market is approximately Rupees 3000 Cr. All the three boats along with 19 crew escorted to Vizhinjam, Kerala for further joint investigation. This is the second major anti-drug trafficking operation undertaken by ICG on west coast of India within a fortnight.
MAJOR NARCOTICS TRANSSHIPMENT AVERTED IN LAKSHADWEEP SEA
Indian Coast Guard has once again been successful in averting a major drug transshipment via sea route in the Lakshadweep Sea. Indian Coast Guard ships and aircraft while on patrol off the Lakshadweep islands observed suspicious movements of three Sri Lankan fishing boats. The boats were continuously monitored by the CG units and were subsequently intercepted and checked at the opportune moment. Initial investigation revealed that SLFB Akarsha Duwa was at sea for longer duration of over a fortnight. Inconsistent information received and abnormal behaviour of crew further raised the suspicion level. As the crew were giving misleading statements they were interrogated tactfully upon which the crew admitted having been involved in smuggling of narcotics/contraband. While en-route, the crew noticed presence of Indian Coast Guard ships and aircraft in the area. With the fear of getting apprehended, the crew decided to flee the area. However, on realizing that fleeing from ICG ships was impossible, they dropped five bags of contraband weighing around 260 kg of narcotics in water. The value of these narcotics in international market is approximately Rs. 2100 Cr. In a similar operation in Nov 2020, Indian Coast Guard had apprehended Sri Lankan fishing boat ‘Shenaya Duwa’ off Kanyakumari, carrying narcotics worth value approximately. Rs. 1000 Cr in the International market. Due to rough sea conditions off Minicoy Islands the boats were brought to Vizhinjam near Thiruvananthapuram on 7th March 21 for further interrogation by the concerned security agencies. Post rummaging and joint investigation at Vizhinjam, SLFB Akarsha Duwa along with 6 Sri Lankan crew was detained for final investigation. Two other Sri Lankan boats with crew were released for handing over to Sri Lankan authorities for further investigation due to considerable quantity of fish stock onboard.
COAST GUARD APPREHENDS BANGLADESHI BOAT
On 16 March, in an air sea coordinated search, Indian Coast Guard (ICG) apprehended a Bangladeshi Fishing Boat “Nurani” near the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL). The boat was trying to cross over to Indian waters. Earlier, based upon an input from its intelligence wing, the Indian Coast Guard had specifically tasked its units, which were maintaining enhanced surveillance along the coast of West Bengal, to search for the suspicious boat. On 16th Mar, during surveillance in area, ICG aircraft sighted a Bangladeshi Fishing Boat in the area and vectored ICG Hovercraft operating in area for interception. Sighting ICG Hovercraft approaching the fishing boat, the crew of the boat which was operating in shallow water, deliberately beached, abandoned the boat and fled to nearby forests. Large numbers of gunny bags containing sarees/textile material have been found onboard abandoned fishing Boat. The abandoned boat is being handed over to police for custody. A joint investigation is planned once the Bangladeshi fishing boat is brought to nearest police station.
The past one year has proved to be a big setback for drug traffickers at sea as ICG has successfully seized about 1.6 tons of narcotics worth approximately Rs. 4900 Cr. The total drug haul done by ICG since inception amounts to Rs. 10,952 Cr. The back to back successful anti-narcotics operations are testimony of smooth and cohesive flow of information with various Government agencies and ICG. This set up has resulted in robust detection and response mechanism coupled with unwavering commitment of ICG which has kept at bay the nefarious designs of Anti National Elements of exploiting our maritime zones for malicious intent.