DRI-ICG intercept 218kg heroin worth Rs 1,526 cr off Lakshadweep


New Delhi, May 21 (UNI) In a joint operation, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) and Indian Coastguard (ICG) busted a gang of smugglers off the coast of Lakshadweep Islands and recovered high-grade heroin valued over Rs 1,526 crore. The operation was launched by DRI after meticulously developing specific intelligence over a period of several months that two Indian boats would be sailing from the coast of Tamil Nadu and would receive narcotics in huge quantity somewhere in the Arabian sea, during the second or third week of May. Accordingly, a joint operation of DRI with Indian Coast Guard codenamed Operation Khojbeen was launched on May 7. Coast Guard ship Sujeet, with DRI officials onboard, maintained a close watch near the Exclusive Economic Zone, a statement said. After several days of continuous search and monitoring amidst very rough seas, two suspected boats Prince and Little Jesus were noticed moving towards India. "Both the Indian boats were intercepted by officers on May 18 off the coast of Lakshadweep Islands. On questioning some of the crew members in the said boats confessed that they had received heroin in huge quantity on high sea and that they had concealed it in both the boats. In view thereof, both the boats were escorted to Kochi for further proceedings," Defence Ministry said. Upon thorough search of both the boats at the Coast Guard district Headquarters at Kochi, 218 packets of 1 kg each of heroin were recovered. The seizure proceedings under the provisions of NDPS Act,1985 are currently being undertaken by the DRI. Follow up searches are taking place at various locations and further investigation is in progress, the Ministry added The operation was meticulously planned and executed by DRI and ICG and entailed extensive surveillance in the rough seas over a period of several days. Seized drug appears to be of high-grade heroin and its value in the international illicit market is estimated to be over Rs 1,526 crore, the Ministry said. In the recent past, ICG and DRI have undertaken some significant anti-drug trafficking operations. This is the fourth major drug bust by DRI in the past one month. Earlier, DRI recovered 205.6 kg of heroin from a commercial import consignment of gypsum powder at the Kandla port on April 20 this year. "Since April 2021, DRI has seized more than 3,800 kg of heroin valued at approximately Rs 26,000 crores in the international illicit market, including seizure of 3,000 kg Heroin at Mundra in September 2021; 293 kg Heroin at Nhava Sheva Port in July 2021; 34 kg Heroin at Tughlaquabad, New Delhi in February 2022; apart from the multiple seizures of Heroin from air passengers," Defence Ministry said. In addition, more than 350 kg of cocaine valued at approximately Rs 3,500 crore in the international illicit market were seized by the DRI during this period, including the largest haul of 303 kg Cocaine from a container at Tuticorin port in April 2021, the Ministry added. ICG has recovered about 3 tons of narcotics worth approximately Rs 6,200 crore in different operations in the past 3 years bringing the total drug haul till date to Rs. 12,206 crore.