RAMANATHAPURAM: In a joint operation involving the Indian Coast Guard (ICG), Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) and Customs, 32kg of gold, including 11kg that was dumped in the sea, has been recovered in Gulf of Mannar off the Mandapam coast.
The gold, valued at Rs 20.2 crore, was being smuggled into India from Sri Lanka, a coast guard press release said. The seizure was a result of a specific input from the DRI regarding smuggling of the contraband between Sri Lanka and India, following which a joint operation was launched by the Indian Coast Guard and the DRI on May 30.
The joint teams deployed by the ICG and the DRI kept a close surveillance on fishing vessels operating in the Gulf of Mannar, particularly near the India-Sri Lanka International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL). On May 30, the joint team detected a suspicious boat approaching Mandapam fishing harbour in Ramanathapuram.
“When challenged, the boat tried to evade apprehension but was finally detained in north Gulf of Mannar. While being chased, the suspects threw the consignment into water before interception. The boat along with three suspects was apprehended and taken into custody for investigation,” the release said. “Simultaneously, a major diving operation was launched by the Indian Coast Guard to search for the illegal gold dumped at sea,” the coast guard press release said on Thursday.
DRI apprehended another boat off Vadalai village
Meanwhile, a separate team from DRI apprehended a second suspicious boat off Vadalai village, south of Mandapam. The boat had about 21.269 kg of smuggled gold, which was seized along with two suspects who were arrested.
“After a relentless diving operation off the coast of Mandapam for two days, the ICG diving team in coordination with local divers successfully recovered the gold consignment from the sea bed on the morning of June 1. This consignment was found to carry gold bars weighing 11.600 kg,” the release said.