January 23, 2021 2:34:21 am
An international drug racket operated by Pakistani drug traffickers jailed in Sri Lanka is increasingly pushing narcotics into India through the sea route using Lankan and Maldivian couriers, a recent investigation by Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) has found.
The drug network, NCB sources said, is spread across Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Australia and India.
On November 26, in a joint operation with the Indian Coast Guard, NCB had detained Sri Lankan fishing vessel ‘Shenaya Duwa’ in the territorial waters of India near Tuticorin port. A search of the vessel led to recovery of 95.875 kg of Heroin and 18.325 kg of Methamphetamine. Five pistols and magazines were found in possession of the crew and seized. The six-member crew, all of them Sri Lankan nationals, were arrested and are currently in jail.
Less than two months later, NCB on January 20 arrested two more Sri Lankan nationals, identified as MMM Nawas and Mohamed Afnas from Chennai for allegedly being part of the racket.
“Both Nawas and Afnas hold important positions in the multinational heroin syndicate. They were controlling mid sea pick up and delivery of narcotic drugs from Pakistani and Iranian vessels. Both had fled Sri Lanka when authorities closed in on them. It is also believed that there is an Interpol Red Corner Notice issued by Sri Lankan government against Nawas,” an NCB statement said.
The NCB said intelligence shared by the agency with Sri Lankan authorities led to seizure of 100 kg of Heroin there.
“With increased vigil that our border guarding forces keep in the north western borders of India, the traditional route of Afghani-Pakistani heroin is becoming tougher to breach. This has also led to the increased use of sea route by heroin traffickers to smuggle the narcotic into India,” an NCB official said.
According to NCB, the largest opium cultivation region of the world, the Golden Crescent comprising Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan, has two important transit points for processed heroin in the island nations of Sri Lanka and Maldives. The heroin from this region is usually loaded in fishing vessels setting sail from the ports of Iran and Pakistan for mid-sea transfer into similar vessels of Sri Lanka and Maldives.
“However, the mid sea transfers happen in territorial waters of India or very near to its territorial waters. There is a big network of foreign entities controlling this lucrative trade. Very reliable intelligence developed by NCB and Indian agencies over the period indicates that Pakistani drug traffickers lodged in Sri Lankan prisons for drug offences control this trade…” an NCB statement said.
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