Vizhinjam: The Indian Coast Guard has intercepted and detained three Sri Lankan fishing vessels, suspected to be involved in international drug peddling.
The vessels, Akarsha Dua, Chathurani-3 and Chathurani-8, were brought to Vizhinjam. The crew members reportedly told the investigators that the drugs were procured from a Pakistani vessel somewhere west of Lakshadweep last month.
The interrogation of the six-member crew, including the captain, revealed that the men had dumped drugs, weighing 250 kilograms, in the sea to escape the law enforcers.
The Narcotic Control Bureau has taken up the probe. A team under its regional director is continuing the interrogation.
Diving experts and a dog squad have joined the probe. It has been suspected that the boats, with 19 people on board, have secret chambers in their hulls.
The trail and arrest
Investigators said the two boats had trailed Akarsha Dua, smuggling the drugs, to help the crew members escape if intercepted.
The crew members tried to contact their leader, identified as Sanjay Anna, over the banned Thuraya satellite phone, after the Coast Guard’s Dornier aircraft and vessels found Akarsha Dua’s automatic identification system.
After the central intelligence agency picked up the signals from the phone, and an intensive search was launched. The boats were seized south-east of Minicoy Island in the Lakshadweep archipelago on Friday morning.
Gang leader Anna, meanwhile, asked the crew to speed away, but the boats were unable to do so. The boat’s captain reportedly told investigators that 200 kg of heroin in five packets, 60 kg of hashish and the satellite phone were tossed into the sea.
Investigators said Anna operated from Dubai and Sri Lanka.
Coast Guard vessel Varaha, captained by Ajit Kumar, intercepted the boats. The crew were interrogated after the banned phone’s charger was found on Akarsha Dua.