Navy forms command control network to curb drug trafficking

Force had seized 200kg of heroin off Kochi coast and 50kg off Gujarat coast in October

Published: 02nd December 2022 04:07 AM  |   Last Updated: 02nd December 2022 04:07 AM   |  A+A-

drugs, drug trafficking

Image used for representational purpose only. (Photo | PTI)

Express News Service

KOCHI: The increasing incidents of drug trafficking along the coastline of Kerala and Lakshadweep are posing a serious threat to national security, and the Navy and Coast Guard in association with state agencies have formed a robust network to curb such illegal activities, said Southern Naval Command Flag Officer Commanding in Chief Vice-Admiral M A Hampiholi.

“There have been continuous efforts to improve inter-agency coordination at all levels along the Western Coast, and the results are seen on the ground. A National Command, Control, Communication and Intelligence (NC3I) Network has been formed interconnecting all the 51 Indian Naval and Coast Guard stations in the country. The network integrates inputs from the coastal surveillance network, national automatic identification system chain, air traffic management system and information from open sources,” he said.

M A Hampiholi

The Indian Navy in association with Narcotics Control Bureau had seized an Iranian dhow carrying 200 kg of heroin off the Kochi coast on October 6. On October 7, a Pakistani boat was seized off the Gujarat coast with 50 kg heroin. In May, the Coast Guard and Directorate of Revenue Intelligence seized 218 kg of heroin off Agatti in Lakshadweep.

“The drug cartels source opium from Afghanistan and some parts of Pakistan. It is shipped from Karachi, and the destination is Sri Lanka, which has become a hub of drug trafficking. The drug smugglers who used land routes for trafficking had shifted to the sea during the lockdown as stringent curbs were imposed on inter-state travel. Now, they have found a safe route in the Arabian sea. We have a robust maritime surveillance and intelligence-sharing system to monitor our Exclusive Economic Zone. The fishing community and the coastal populace are our eyes and ears,” said Hampiholi.

The Navy has established four joint operation centres at each Naval Command. These centres are manned 24 hours by the Navy and Coast Guard. They coordinate with state marine police and other agencies like the customs and fisheries department. However, sources at the operational level said it has been tough to detect the contraband as the smugglers are using innovative ways to outsmart the agencies.

“The smugglers have got waterproof bags in which the drugs are packed. If they see an approaching patrolling vessel or surveillance aircraft, they will throw the packets into the sea. They attach a GPS gadget to the packet so that they can recover it once the patrol team leaves,” said an officer.

India Matters


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