THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Coast Guard intercepted three Sri Lankan boats, which were reportedly ferrying 260kg drugs in Indian territorial waters off the coast of Lakshadweep.
Coast Guard sources said the boats were ferrying heroin and hashish, that they had received from crew members of a Pakistani ship around 400 nautical miles off Lakshadweep. The boats had 19 crew members on board and they have been taken into custody.
According to Coast Guard officials, the three boats were spotted by Coast Guard ship Varaha, which was patrolling off the coast of Lakshadweep, on Friday. Preliminary investigation revealed that those on board the Lankan boats were using unauthorised communication gadgets and were transporting narcotics. The boats were intercepted during a routine patrolling.
“The officials grew suspicious and inspected the vessels. They found that those on board the vessels were using sophisticated but outlawed communication devices. On questioning, it was revealed that the vessels were transporting drugs,” said a defense department source.
The Coast Guard said the drugs were ferried in one of the boats named Akarsha Duwa, which had six crew members on board. The boat was carrying 200kg of heroin and 60kg hashish. The crew had received the substances, filled in six packets, and were directed by main operator Sanjay Anna to flee from the Coast Guard vessel.
However, the skipper of the boat replied that it was not possible to escape from the fast-moving Indian vessel and dumped Thuraya, a satellite communication device that they were using, and the consignment into the sea. The boats and crew members were brought to Vizhinjam port on Sunday and are being interrogated by multiple agencies. Sources said the investigation is in the preliminary stage.
However, the use of satellite devices and the nationality of the crew members suggest that it was a trans-national operation. Thurava has a wide range and covers two thirds of the globe. “The involvement of Lankan nationals has given this case an International outlook. So agencies from RAW to Coast Guard are now digging deep into the case,” the sources added.