MUMBAI: The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence and the Indian Coast Guard intercepted two boats off the Mumbai coast and seized 23 tonnes of red sanders, nabbing 20 persons.
"It was originally the intelligence of the DRI, they tipped us off about the smuggling," DIG Coast Guard Dinesh Rajputran said.
According to DRI officials, they had received the intelligence on December 2. "As soon as intelligence was shared we alerted the Coast Guard ships and aircraft," said another Coast Guard official, DIG Donny Michael.
Officials said the barge MV Ganga Sagar sailed from Mumbai with around 23 tonnes of red sanders for transfer at sea to the dhow 'Al Marwan, 10'.
Al Marwan sailed from Veraval in Gujarat showing consignment of 100 metric tonnes of maize for Dubai.
"At the same time barge Ganga Sagar sailed from Sewari in Mumbai with red sanders and the two vessels were expected to meet near Bombay High for transfer," said Putran.
On December 2 the Indian Coast Guard Ship Achook sailed to intercept the consignment; another ship, ICGS Subhadra Kumari Chauhan, also went to the sea. DRI in the meanwhile had learnt that the accused were referring to red sanders by code name 'jinga' (prawns).
"We also pressed Dornier aircraft and Chetak helicopter into the operation," added Michael. The CG grew suspicious as Al Marwan, instead of going to Dubai, was trying to reach the Bombay High.
Putran said that last evening they found that light on one of the boats was switched off. "We also switched off the light of our ship and approached it just as the transfer was going on," he added. Though most of the accused surrendered, three of them locked themselves inside a cabin and had to be forced to give themselves up.
"In the entire process we fired around 8 to 10 rounds," said another Coast Guard official.
All the 20 accused along with the seized property were handed over to the Mumbai police for investigation. "We decided to hand over the case to the Mumbai police as besides the Customs Act, some sections of other laws will also be applied,” said a DRI official.