150kg Heroin Seized Off Coast of Kochi, India; Fifth Seizure in 3 Months of Narcotics Originating From Pakistan

October 05: At least 150 kg heroin worth millions of dollars was seized on Saturday in a joint operation of coast guards of India, the Maldives and Sri Lankan from a boat on his way from Pakistan days after it was detected in international waters in the India-Ocean Region (IOR) off Kerala’s Kochi coast, according to officials aware of the development.

The officials said it is the fifth haul of drugs shipped from Pakistan through the sea that has been recovered over the last three months. The Sri Lankan Coast Guard seized 140 kg heroin from a vessel registered in Iran in July 2019 in a similar coordinated operation.

Officials said that the seizures of narcotics from the IOR is a matter of concern for New Delhi.

They added that in the latest case Indian security agencies detected the boat on September 30 about 500 nautical miles or 926 km off the Kochi coast. “[The boat] was receiving instructions from Pakistan,” an official said on condition of anonymity. It was not immediately clear where the boat was headed to.

He added that the Indian Coast Guard was asked to deploy its assets and keep a constant watch on the vessel since it was in the international waters.

The officials said that Sri Lankan and Maldivian Coast Guards were also alerted and they deployed their ships to intercept the vessel in coordination with their Indian counterparts. “In a joint operation yesterday [Saturday] night, the Maldivian Coast Guard and Maldivian Police seized the suspect vessel in their waters,’’ the official said.

The officials said the heroin was recovered from two packets and the boat is being subject to a thorough investigation.

The Indian navy’s Gurugram-based Information Management and Analysis Centre monitors the IOR around the clock through a chain of sensors and radars. Some of these sensors and radars and based in friendly countries like the Maldives, Seychelles and Sri Lanka. The navy also shares live information with friendly foreign countries.

India, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives signed a tripartite maritime security pact in July 2013 under which they cooperate in monitoring their Exclusive Economic Zones as well as undertake search, rescue and anti-piracy operations. They also share and track information on merchant vessels.

“We have an excellent relationship with countries like Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bangladesh among others. There is free flow of information and intelligence and complete coordination with the respective Navies, Coast Guards. We also do tri-lateral exercises with the Maldives and Sri Lanka. Coordination and cooperation has only grown and strengthened in the last few years and this catch goes on to show the effectiveness with which the IOR is being policied,” Rajindra Singh who recently retired as the Director-General of Coast Guard said.

Source: Hindustan Times / Sudhi Ranjan Sen

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