The Indian Coast Guard Ship Samudra Pavak intercepted and apprehended a Panama-registered vessel carrying approximately 1500 kgs of narcotics valued at about ₹3500 Crore off the coast of Gujarat, official sources said Sunday. This is the largest single haul of narcotics seized till date, said officials.
The vessel with eight crew members was found carrying no cargo iat mid-sea off Gujarat coast. When quizzed, the master of the ship said that the vessel had no documents as it was headed to the Alang ship-breaking yard in Bhavnagar to be broken. The vessel was subsequently detained and was tugged to the Porbandar port on Sunday where the authorities during inspection found the vessel to be carrying 1500 kgs of heroin.
Intelligence inputs received on July 17 indicated the presence of an Iranian cargo vessel Prince-II about 210 miles west of Porbandar which is not inside Indian waters. The vessel was expected to make a landing between Jamnagar and Bhavnagar on the Saurashtra coast.
Thereafter, Indian Coast Guard centres at Mumbai, Gandhinagar and Porbandar were activated, ICG ships alerted and dornier aircraft sorties undertaken to track down the vessel. Air surveillance narrowed down on two inbound cargo vessels which were intercepted and detained on July 26 for investigation at Okha port.
In the meantime, a dornier aircraft sanitising the area near Gulf of Khambhat picked up another vessel that was not recognised on the Automatic Identification System and was marked suspicious. ICGS Samudra Pavak was diverted to intercept the vessel “Henry” which was to call at Bhavnagar port for breaking at Alang.
Authorities at Khambhat were consulted and on confirmation that no such vessel was expected, the vessel was shadowed, intercepted and boarded in the wee hours of July 29. As the vessel was not carrying the necessary documents it was taken to the nearest port. It reached Porbandar on Sunday. Joint investigation of the vessel and the crew by the ICG, IB, Police, Customs, Navy and other agencies is currently underway.
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