The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) on Thursday arrested eight crew members of Panama-registered Hennry vessel, from which the Coast Guard had recently recovered 1,500 kg of heroin valued at Rs 3,500 crore. NCB’s zonal director Hari Om Gandhi said the crew members were produced before a Porbandar court, which remanded them in the agency’s custody for 15 days. The FIR against the crew was registered on the basis of a complaint forwarded by Assistant Commandant (Coast Guard) Navin Kumar.
According to the complaint report, addressed to Rakesh Kumar, intelligence officer, NCB, “It was observed that the master (Suprit Tiwari) and crew were not in possession of any licence, permit and documents pertaining to departure from last port of call i.e Abu Dhabi, UAE and entry in the next port of call i.e Bhavnagar for scrap as claimed by the master. The master and the crew were interrogated and searched for suspected items was pursued by the boarding party…”
The report, a copy of which is with The Indian Express, stated that Tiwari was isolated and interrogated by Coast Guard officials following which he “surrendered and confessed to availability of narcotics onboard. The master physically identified the locations where the narcotics was stored. The locations were thereafter rummaged (railings were broken and tanks were emptied) by coast guard personnel and 1,526 packets narcotics was recovered…”
It stated that “narcotics was sealed into water proof bricks. The packets were tied with ropes and a chain was formulated for easy stowing and quick recovery. The packets were then concealed into railings and cavities. The ends of railings were sealed and the structure was thereafter painted”. The drugs were stacked in 1 kg and 500 gm packets.
The NCB officials confirmed that the vessel initally had 13 crew members, including four Iranians and one Indian cook identified as Ishtikar Alam, employed by ship owner Saiyed Ali Morani. Officials said the drugs were loaded in the mid-sea off Chabahar port in Iran.
They said that the eight crew members were locked in the ship and were not allowed to come on the deck for four to five days when the drugs were being concealed with the help of the four Iranians said to be “men of the ship owner”, and one Pakistani identified as Khalid Mohammed.
After loading the drugs, the four Iranian crew — Ibrahim, Rasool, Muhammad and Mustafa — left the ship with the cook after he was taken ill. The remaining crew was asked to proceed towards Egypt, but Tiwari changed his mind and turned towards India and also shut down the automatic identification system (ASI) to avoid detection.
Tiwari was in touch with a sailor identified as Devendra from Bareilly and informed him about the the drugs, the report said.
Devendra got Tiwari in touch with Mumbai-based Vishal Yadav and Irfan Shaikh, who allegedly promised they could fetch at least Rs 500 crore for the drugs. Tiwari asked for Rs 50 crore as share.
Both Yadav and Shaikh were caught by the Gujarat ATS on Monday. They have been handed over to NCB for further probe.
Hennry was apprehended on July 28 by the Indian Coast Guard 46 nautical miles off Porbandar coast.