AHMEDABAD: A major attempt to smuggle in Rs. 500 crore worth drugs from Pakistan was foiled after Coast Guard and ATS personnel intercepted a boat and seized around 100 kg heroin, officials said on Wednesday.
After being intercepted, the boat crew set the vessel afire and also tried to destroy the drugs. The ATS arrested nine Iranians from the boat, the officials said.
The joint mid-sea operation was carried out off Gujarat coast on Tuesday by the Coast Guard and the state Anti-Terrorism Squad, they added.
The Iranian boat was loaded off the Gwadar port in Pakistan, the officials said.
Occupants of the boat set it ablaze as the Coast Guard and ATS personnel closed in, officials said.
The boat sank off the Gujarat coast near Porbandar, an official release said.
“The interrogation of nine Iranian nationals from the smuggler’s boat revealed one Pakistani national named Hamid Malek had sent the consignment, which was loaded in the Iranian boat off Gwadar port of Pakistan. The total value of the 100 kg contraband is estimated to be Rs. 500 crore,” the release said.
Officials said Gujarat ATS had received a tip-off that an Iranian boat will make an attempt to smuggle in heroin along the Gujarat coast.
The ATS contacted the Coast Guard and the Marine Task Force of the Gujarat police to launch an operation on Monday.
“Officers of ATS boarded the ICG’s fast patrol vessel (FPV) and a joint search was started. Commandos of Marine Task Force of Gujarat police were kept in boats in territorial waters to help in apprehending the smugglers,” said the release.
According to ATS officials, the information available was limited and only the communication frequency, to identify the smugglers’ boat, was known.
“After more than 24 hours of search, a suspicious boat was identified while making an attempt to communicate in the particular frequency,” said the release.
When the Coast Guard ship started following the boat and asked the crew to stop, they tried to escape by steering away the boat, which resulted in a mid sea chase.
However, fearing that they would be caught eventually, the crew set the boat ablaze to destroy evidence, the release said.
It said personnel on the Coast Guard ship tried to douse the flames but the presence of 24,000 litres of fuel and gas cylinders on board the smugglers’ boat put paid to the effort and the blaze spun out of control.
The boat eventually sank but all nine crew members were rescued, and apprehended, and 100 kg heroin seized from the vessel by security forces.
ATS officials said the person, as well as the boat, that was supposed to receive the drugs consignment have been identified.