The Indian Coast Guard has seized a Myanmarese vessel carrying 1,160 kilograms of contraband drugs worth Rs 300 crore in the Indian Ocean region, officials said on Saturday.
The Indian Coast Guard Ship Rajveer has taken into custody six crew members on board the vessel, who were interrogated by officials of the Narcotics Control Bureau and local police in Port Blair of Andaman Islands.
According to the ICG officials, the cargo was suspected to be part of a larger drug networking cartel operating in the Indian Ocean region.
Indian Coast Guard Inspector General Maneesh Pathak told news agency ANI that drugs were being supplied to a South-East Asian country.
The entire operation was conducted independently by the Coast Guard after a Dornier surveillance plane detected the vessel’s suspicious movement and later on was apprehended by ICGS Rajveer.
The massive drug seizure was made on September 19 by ICG ship near the Car Nicobar Islands of India.
Officials said nearly 1,160 kg of the ketamine drug was seized in the co-ordinated sea-air operation from the vessel that was later found to belong to Myanmar.
The boat carrying the drug consignment sunk in the Indian Ocean after sea waters flooded its deck when the ICG was ferrying it from Car Nicobar to Port Blair.
“Surveillance aircraft of the coast guard sighted the suspicious vehicle on September 18. The ship did not respond to messages relayed through VHF. Hence, ICG ship Rajveer was directed to intercept it. The crew on the Myanmar vessel tried to evade the Coast Guard ship when intercepted near Car Nicobar on September 19. Its deck was unlit,” said an ICG official.
Sources said the crew have revealed during interrogations that they started their journey with the drug consignment from Damson Bay in Myanmar on September 14 and had instructions to transfer the consignment, packed in 57 gunny bundles, to another ship operating near the Thailand-Malaysia border.
Meanwhile, Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh congratulated the ICG on Saturday for the successful operation.