Drugs seized in the operation | Photo: Mathrubhumi/TK Pradeep Kumar
Kochi: In a massive drug bust, nearly 2,500 kilograms of methamphetamine worth around Rs 12,000 crore was seized from a vessel in Indian waters along the Kerala coast in a joint operation by the Navy and the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), the anti-drug agency said on Saturday.
The NCB said it was the largest seizure of methamphetamine in the country and a Pakistani national has been detained in connection with it.
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.
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.
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 Indian Navy also tweeted about the seizure. "In a successful operation at sea, #IndianNavy in coordination with Narcotics Control Bureau seized nearly 2500 kgs of contraband The contraband is being handed over to Law Enforcement Agencies #MaritimeSecurity @DefenceMinIndia @narcoticsbureau @SpokespersonMoD @PIBHomeAffairs," it tweeted.