In a joint operation in mid-sea, the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) and Gujarat’s Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) apprehended eight Pakistani nationals on board a fishing boat with heroin worth about ₹150 crore off the Gujarat coast on Thursday morning.
Based on a tip-off, a joint team of the Gujarat ATS and the Indian Coast Guard captured the boat near the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) in the Arabian Sea.
“We acted on a tip-off regarding a drug consignment likely to be delivered mid-sea by a boat from Pakistan. In a joint exercise with the Coast Guard, we zeroed in on the suspected boat as soon as it entered Indian territorial waters,” said ATS Deputy Inspector General of Police Himanshu Shukla.
He added that eight Pakistani nationals were apprehended and 30 kg of heroin was seized from them. The market value of the seized drugs is estimated to be about ₹150 crore in the international market.
“The ICG in a joint operation with ATS Gujarat apprehended Pakistani boat PFB (Pakistani Fishing Boat) NUH with 08 Pak nationals & 30 Kg of heroin off Jakhau #Guajrat close to IMBL in Indian waters today,” the Coast Guard posted on Twitter.
The Pakistani nationals were taken to the coastal police station in Jakhao, a major fishing harbour in Kutch district, for interrogation.
Meanwhile, according to a statement released by the ICG on Thursday, “On April 13, we received an input regarding suspected narcotics trafficking by Pakistani boat off Indo-Pak notional IMBL.”
“A coordinated operation was launched swiftly by the ICG in association with the Gujarat ATS. The ICG Fast Interceptor Boat with ATS officials embarked was deployed to intercept the suspected Pakistani boat. On the intervening night of April 14 and 15, the suspected boat was sighted in Indian waters and intercepted by the ICG,” the ICG statement added. “On boarding and rummaging, 30 packets of heroin weighing approximately one kilogram each were recovered from the boat,” it said.
“Preliminary investigations revealed that the consignment being smuggled was destined for landing on the Gujarat shore. The boat along with eight Pakistani nationals have been escorted to Jakhau for further rummaging and joint investigation,” the statement said.
The Gujarat coast is known to have become a major route for smuggling drugs into the country.
In March 2019, in a sensational mid-sea operation jointly conducted by the ICG and ATS off the Gujarat coast, nine Iranian nationals who were reportedly smuggling 100 kg of heroine worth ₹500 crore through sea route were nabbed.
Subsequently, in January 2020, the Gujarat ATS arrested five alleged Pakistani nationals and seized a 35 kg heroin consignment worth ₹175 crore from their possession in a fishing boat in a joint operation with local police and the ICG off the Jakhau coast in Kutch.