New Delhi: The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) in a joint operation with the navy seized 200 kg of Afghan heroin being trafficked through the maritime route off the Kerala coast Thursday. Sources in the agency said that the contraband, which was being transported in an Iranian vessel, is worth around Rs 1,200 crore.
The NCB also arrested six Iranian crew members of the vessel.
“The boat along with the recovered heroin and six crew members on board were brought to the Mattancherry Wharf, Willingdon Island, Kochi. NCB has now seized the vessel and the 200 kg of heroin. The 6 Iranian crew members have also been arrested under relevant sections of NDPS (Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances) Act,” NCB’s Deputy Director-General (Operations) Sanjay Kumar Singh said in a press conference Friday.
Sources in the agency told ThePrint that the vessel carrying the contraband was headed to Sri Lanka and routed through Indian waters. “Part of it was to be sold in India and the rest in the international market. We are trying to ascertain the Indian connections to this,” Singh said.
According to a source in the NCB, intelligence inputs that the vessel would be passing the coastal waters let to the seizure.
Deputy D-G Singh said the seized heroin was packed in 200 packets with water-proof packaging of seven layers, and each packet had markings that are unique to Afghan and Pakistan drug cartels. He further said that while some of those packets had ‘scorpion’ seal markings, the others had ‘dragon’ seal markings.
There was nothing else on the boat apart from the contraband. The DDG said that according to preliminary investigation, the heroin had been sourced from Afghanistan and transported to Pakistan.
“This consignment was loaded into the seized vessel off the Pakistan coast through a mid-sea exchange. The vessel then set off for the Indian waters for further delivery of the consignment to a Sri Lankan vessel. Efforts were made to identify and intercept this Sri Lankan vessel,” Singh said. The Sri Lankan vessel, however, couldn’t be traced.
According to the DDG, trafficking of Afghan heroin to India via the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean has exponentially increased over the last few years. “The southern route trafficking of heroin from Afghanistan — Afghanistan to Makran coast of Iran and Pakistan and then onwards to various countries in the Indian Ocean region including India, has gained prominence over the last few years.”
On Friday, the NCB also seized 50 kg of Mephedrone worth Rs 120 crore in international markets from a godown in Mumbai. Six people including a former Air India pilot were arrested.
(Edited by Anumeha Saxena)
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