Kerala

₹1,526 crore worth of heroin seized off Lakshadweep

Coast Guard ship Sujeet with fishing vessels Prince and Little Jesus docked alongside in Kochi.

Coast Guard ship Sujeet with fishing vessels Prince and Little Jesus docked alongside in Kochi. | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRAGEMENT

A total of 218 kg of heroin valued at approximately ₹1,526 crore in the international market was seized on Wednesday off the Lakshadweep coast, in a joint operation conducted by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) and Indian Coast Guard (ICG), that was codenamed ‘Operation Khojbeen’.

The operation was launched by the DRI after it obtained specific intelligence over a period of several months that two Indian boats would be sailing from the coast of Tamil Nadu and would receive a huge quantity of narcotics somewhere in the Arabian Sea, during the second/third week of May 2022.

Following this, Operation Khojbeen was launched on May 7, wherein Coast Guard ship Sujeet, with DRI officials on board, maintained a close watch near the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

After several days of search and monitoring amidst very rough seas, two suspected boats bearing the names “Prince” and “Little Jesus” were noticed moving towards India. They were intercepted by officers of ICG and DRI on Wednesday off the coast of Lakshadweep Islands.

On questioning, crew members in the boats confessed that they had received heroin in huge quantity while on the high seas and that they had concealed it in the boats. The boats were subsequently escorted to Kochi for further proceedings, said an official press release.

A thorough search of the boats was carried out at the Coast Guard district headquarters in Kochi, which resulted in recovery of 218 packets of 1 kg each of heroin. The seizure proceedings under the provision of the NDPS Act, 1985, are being undertaken by the DRI. Follow-up searches are taking place at various locations and further investigation is in progress.

The seized drug appears to be of high-grade heroin. In the recent past, the ICG and DRI have undertaken some significant anti-drug trafficking operations. This is the fourth major drug bust by the DRI in the past one month.

The DRI had recovered 205 kg of heroin from a commercial import consignment of gypsum powder at the Kandla port on April 20, 396 kg of thread (laced with heroin) at Pipavav port on April 29 and 62 kg of heroin at the Air Cargo Complex in New Delhi on May 10.

They are totally valued at approximately ₹2,500 crore in the international illicit market.

Since April 2021, the DRI has seized more than 3,800 kg of heroin valued at approximately ₹26,000 crore in the international illicit market. In addition, more than 350 kg of cocaine valued at approximately ₹3,500 crore was seized by the DRI during this period, including the largest haul of 303 kg of cocaine from a container at Tuticorin port in April 2021.

The ICG on the other hand has recovered about 3 tonnes of narcotics worth approximately ₹6,200 crore in different operations in the past three years, bringing the total drug haul till date to ₹12,206 crore.


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Printable version | Jul 2, 2022 6:48:24 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/1526-cr-worth-of-heroin-seized-off-lakshadweep/article65440135.ece