New Delhi, May 20 (IANS) In a joint operation titled "Khojbeen", the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence and the Indian Coast Guard maintained patient vigil on rough seas for over 10 days to bust an international drug syndicate and seized 128 kg heroin smuggled on two boats off the coast of Lakshadweep Islands, officials said on Friday.
Two boats "Prince" and "Little Jesus" have been seized and few persons have been detained.
The operation was launched by the DRI after it developed 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.
Accordingly, joint operation "Khojbeen" was launched on May 7.
Under the operation, Coast Guard ship Sujeet, with DRI officials onboard, maintained a close watch near the country's Exclusive Economic Zone.
"After several days of continuous search and monitoring amidst very rough seas, two boats 'Prince' and 'Little Jesus' were noticed moving towards India. Both the Indian boats were intercepted on May 18 off the coast of Lakshadweep Islands. On questioning some of the crew members in the boats confessed that they had received heroin in huge quantity on the high seas and that they had concealed it in both the boats. In view thereof, both the boats were escorted to Kochi for further proceedings," said a DRI official.
A thorough search of both the boats was carried out at the Coast Guard District Headquarters at Kochi, which resulted in recovery of 218 1-kg packets of of heroin.
"The operation was meticulously planned and executed by the DRI and the 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 around Rs 1,526 crore," the official said.
In the recent past, both agencies have undertaken some significant anti-drug trafficking operations.
This is the fourth major drug bust by the DRI in the past one month. Earlier, it recovered 205.6 kg of heroin from a commercial import consignment of gypsum powder at the Kandla port on April 20, 396 kg of heroin-laced threads at Pipavav port on April 29, and 62 kg heroin at Air Cargo Complex, IGI New Delhi on May 10, totally valued at approximately Rs 2,500 crore in the international illicit market.