Police suspect role of former convicts who were active in smuggling contraband via sea

Security agencies have stepped up vigil along the coastline in Tamil Nadu amid inputs of gold smuggling activities. Besides an abandoned boat in Kodiakkarai in Nagapattinam district, there were at least a couple of instances where consignments of gold were intercepted in the recent past, police sources said.

Investigators suspect the role of some former convicts who were active in smuggling contraband via sea and believe that the gold bars originated from Gulf or South-East Asian countries. Investigation was still on to ascertain the ownership and origin of the abandoned boat, the sources said.

Acknowledging that there were inputs on gold smuggling, Additional Director-General of Police (Coastal Security Group) C. Sylendra Babu said the Marine Police had intensified patrolling and sensitised the fishing community to alert the police in case they came across any suspicious activity along the coast.

Besides the coast, police have intensified vehicle checks on roads leading to coastal districts and mounted vigil at check-posts abutting inter-State borders. Security along the eastern seaboard was strengthened following an alert by Naval Intelligence of possible intrusion by terrorists, the sources said.

In a related development, the Narcotics Control Bureau has also enhanced surveillance at vulnerable places to prevent smuggling of drugs. NCB’s south zonal director Prem Anand Sinha said investigators acting on a specific tip-off apprehended two persons at Chennai Airport and seized 12.25 kg of pseudoephedrine meant for smuggling to Malaysia. A couple of days ago in Bangalore, NCB sleuths intercepted a car and seized 15.6 kg of ganja from Abdul Aleem. The suspect had the contraband stuffed in small packets for distribution to college students, IT professionals and businessmen in Bangalore city.

“We have sensitised courier firms to follow a standard operating procedure when it comes to handling suspicious consignments. Most of the courier companies have installed CCTV network and the photo identity proof of the consignor is taken before booking a parcel,” he said.

On information from a courier firm in Chennai, an NCB team opened a suspicious baggage booked from Tiruvarur and found a white powder. Though the drug test kit indicated ketamine, the powder was referred to the laboratory for further analysis.

“It turned out to be sodium chloride…we are investigating why common salt was booked to a foreign destination. Maybe it was a trial run,” Mr. Sinha said.

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