In a major success for India’s anti-drug authorities, a joint operation by the Navy and the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) led to the seizure of nearly 2,500 kilograms of methamphetamine worth around Rs 12,000 crore from a vessel in Indian waters along the Kerala coast.
Giving details of the seizure at a press conference held here, NCB Deputy Director General (Ops) Sanjay Kumar Singh said it was carried out as part of ‘Operation Samudragupt’ which targeted maritime trafficking of drugs originating from Afghanistan.
The operation, which was conducted over several days, was launched based on intelligence inputs about a vessel carrying a large quantity of drugs. The Navy deployed a ship and a helicopter to intercept the vessel, which was found to be sailing under a foreign flag. The NCB, which was also part of the operation, played a crucial role in identifying the contraband and conducting the seizure.
According to officials, the vessel was intercepted in Indian waters near Kochi, and the drugs were found hidden in several containers onboard. The methamphetamine was reportedly of high purity and was believed to have been manufactured in a foreign country. The seizure is said to be one of the largest in recent years and highlights the growing problem of drug trafficking in the region.
The operation was carried out as part of a broader crackdown on drug trafficking in India, which has seen a sharp rise in recent years. The NCB has been at the forefront of this campaign, conducting several high-profile raids and seizures in different parts of the country. The agency has also been working closely with international counterparts to track down drug traffickers and disrupt their operations.
The seizure of such a large quantity of methamphetamine is expected to have a significant impact on the drug trade in the region. The authorities have vowed to continue their efforts to root out drug trafficking and bring those responsible to justice.This is the third major seizure by NCB of maritime trafficking of drugs through the southern route in the last one and a half years, the agency said. As part of the operation, so far around 3,200 kg of methamphetamine, 500 kg of heroin and 529 kg of hashish has been seized, it said.
The first seizure in the operation was made in February 2022 when a joint team of NCB and Indian Navy seized 529 kg of hashish, 221 kg of methamphetamine and 13 kg of heroin from the high seas off the coast of Gujarat, all sourced from Baluchistan (a region in Pakistan) and Afghanistan, the agency said
Commenting on the operation, a senior NCB official said, “This is a major success for us and a big blow to the drug trade. We will continue to work closely with our partners to disrupt drug trafficking and dismantle the networks involved in this illicit trade.”
Subsequently, an Iranian boat was intercepted off the coast of Kerala in a joint operation by NCB and Indian Navy in October 2022 and a total of 200 kg of high-grade heroin, also sourced from Afghanistan, was seized and six Iranian drug traffickers were arrested, it said.
Thereafter, sharing of real-time actionable information, generated during the operation, with Sri Lanka and Maldives led to the seizure of hundreds of kilograms of heroin and methamphetamine and arrest of 19 drug traffickers in two operations conducted by the Sri Lankan Navy in December 2022 and April 2023, the agency said.
The agency claimed that the latest consignment of around 2,500 kg of methamphetamine was meant for India, Sri Lanka and Maldives from Afghanistan.
The drug cache had started on a “mother ship” – a large vessel that distributes narcotics to various boats during its journey – from the Makran coast around Pakistan and Iran, it said.
As many as 134 sacks of suspected methamphetamine, the intercepted boat and some other items salvaged from the ship along with the Pakistani national were brought to Mattancherry Wharf and handed over by the Navy to the NCB, it said.
“NCB has initiated the seizure procedures and the primary analysis is that all of the packets contain methamphetamine of high purity,” the NCB said.
The seizure comes at a time when drug trafficking has emerged as a major challenge for law enforcement agencies in India and other countries. The NCB has been stepping up its efforts to combat the problem and has called for greater cooperation between countries to tackle this global menace.