100kg heroin in empty fuel tank seized from Lankan boat. Pakistan is the source
The Indian Coast Guard has seized drugs, including 100kg of heroin, from a Sri Lankan boat in the high seas south of Thoothukudi during a nine-day operation that started on November 17, officials familiar with the development said on Wednesday. Six crew members, who identified themselves as Sri Lankan nationals, have been detained and are being interrogated.
During their initial questioning, the crew members told Coast Guard officials that the drugs were transferred onto the Sri Lankan vessel “Shenaya Duwa” on the high seas by a Pakistani dhow from Karachi. The drugs were meant to be sent to western countries and Australia.
Coast Guard officials had found 99 packets of heroin, 20 small boxes of synthetic drugs, five 9mm pistols and a Thuraya satellite phone set,” a second official associated with the operation said. The drugs had been hidden in an empty fuel tank on board.
According to the crew members, the boat is allegedly owned by Alensu Kuttige Sinha Deeptha Sani Fernando from Negombo, a city on the west coast of Sri Lanka.
The six were taken to the port of Thoothukudi, earlier known as Tuticorin, where they are being interrogated by a multi-agency team of officials.
“Pakistan not only exports jihad but also drugs, which is used to fund terrorism,” one of the officials associated with the operation said.
Besides investigating the potential recipients of the drugs in Tamil Nadu, Narcotics Control Bureau officials will also try to identify the source of the drugs in Pakistan. Officials said a Pakistan-based high valued drug trafficker with possible backup from the Pakistani deep state spearheads the multinational operation of trafficking of Afghan heroin.
Investigation of huge seizures in the past have indicated connections of drug traffickers from across the borders with terrorist organisations such as Lashkar-Taiba and Hizbul Mujahideen.
Officials said the NCB is working to dismantle the international supply chains used by drug traffickers but India’s geographic location does make this an arduous task. India is sandwiched between Golden Crescent on the northwestern frontier and Golden Triangle on the northeastern frontier.
New Delhi has been working closely with Colombo and Male, sharing and receiving information about drug trafficking. The NCB has helped Sri Lanka, and Maldives to effect big seizures totaling 1,500 kgs of heroin in 2019-20 alone.
Officials said they had received a message from the Sri Lankan coast guard about the boat when they were questioning the six crew members.
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