The Indian Coast Guard and Gujarat Anti-Terrorist Squad have seized 50 kilograms of heroin worth Rs 350 crore from a Pakistani boat off the state coast and apprehended its six crew members, officials said on Saturday.
In the operation conducted during the intervening night of Friday and Saturday, the ICG and ATS personnel intercepted the boat Al Sakar, where the drug was found concealed in five gunny bags, they said.
The ATS said in a release that as per the primary investigation, the seized heroin was sent by Pakistan-based drug mafia Mohammad Kadar, who intended to use the Gujarat coast to supply it further to north India and Punjab.
The boat and six crew members were brought to the state’s Jakhau port for further investigation. The apprehended Pakistani nationals are from Sindh and Karachi of the neighbouring country, officials said.
A release issued by the ICG said the joint operation was carried out during the intervening night of October 7 and 8, when a Pakistani boat was found moving suspiciously in Indian waters, five nautical miles inside the notional International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) and 40 nautical miles from Jakhau.
“On being challenged, the Pakistani boat started evasive manoeuvring. Two fast interceptor class of ships – C-429 and C-454 – deployed by the ICG for patrolling in areas close to the IMBL, intercepted the Pakistani boat and forced it to stop,” it said.
Following a search of the boat, 50 kg narcotics was found concealed in five gunny bags. The market value of the seized drug is estimated to be Rs 350 crore, it said, adding that the boat was brought to Jakhau for further joint investigation by all agencies along with the six crew members, who were apprehended.
Talking to reporters, Gujarat Director General of Police (DGP) Ashish Bhatia said the ATS team was working on the input since the last 4-6 days, and the action was taken after it received exact coordinates of the apprehended boat.
“After receiving the exact coordinates, the boat was challenged and apprehended. The crew members threw the (satellite) phone in the water. Since we were alert, 50 kg of the contraband worth Rs 350 crore could be recovered from the boat,” he said.
He said the receiver of the contraband is yet to be identified. “We will try to get information through the interrogation of apprehended crew members. A case will be registered and further action will be taken,” he said.
This is the sixth such joint operation by the IGC and state ATS in the last one year and second such operation in less than a month when 40 kg drugs was seized from a Pakistani boat on September 14.
Such operations have been a result of effective coordination and synergy amongst security agencies, the ICG said in a release.
Since 2019, the Gujarat ATS has arrested 100 accused in different cases related to drug smuggling, of whom 60 are foreign nationals, 39 of them Pakistanis, 16 Iranians, four Afghanis and one Nigerian.
The state’s anti-terror agency has seized 1,975.8 kg of drugs since 2019, out of which 423.29 kg of heroin were seized so far this year alone, which were worth Rs 2,216.47 crore.
In September last year, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) had seized nearly 3,000 kg of heroin, believed to have originated in Afghanistan and worth about Rs 21,000 crore in global markets, from two containers at the Mundra port in Kutch district of Gujarat. It is said to be the single largest heroin haul in India so far.
In April this year, the DRI had seized 205.6 kg heroin worth Rs 1,439 crore from a container near the Kandla port in Kutch, while in May, it had recovered 56 kg of cocaine, estimated to be worth around Rs 500 crore, from a container near the Mundra port.
In July, the ATS had seized 75.3 kg of heroin estimated to be worth Rs 376.5 crore from a container near the Mundra port.