KOCHI: An Iranian dhow carrying over 200kg of heroin, worth nearly Rs 400 crore, was seized and six of its crew members were taken into custody by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) in coordination with the Indian Navy, off Kochi coast on Thursday.
NCB officials said that four crew members are Iranian nationals and the fifth person is a Pakistani citizen. The identity of the sixth accused is yet to be ascertained. Official sources said the dhow was traced and seized based on an intelligence report that a drug consignment was headed to India.
“The dhow was towed and brought to Mattancherry wharf around 8.30am on Thursday. A detailed probe is on to collect the details of the crew members. They are not carrying any specific identification documents,” said the officers.
Though preliminary investigation suggests the contraband was being brought to Kerala from Afghanistan and an international drug cartel was behind the network, the NCB officials said they are yet to confirm the destination. Senior officials of NCB, National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Intelligence Bureau (IB) will reach Kochi to carry out a detailed probe. The Indian enforcement agencies were able to bust the trafficking ring operating off the Indian coast in the Arabian sea after a coordinated team of NCB and the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) upped the intelligence gathering on the activities of international drug cartels.
In 2015, a similar Iranian Dhow with 12 crew members including one Pakistani was intercepted by the Indian Coast Guard off the Kerala coast on suspicion of carrying drugs. The dhow was brought to Vizhinjam harbour and the case was taken over by National Investigation Agency (NIA).