Heroin from Afghanistan shipped to West via Sri Lanka

In the largest single haul of narcotics till date, the Indian Coast Guard seized 1,500 kg of heroin, valued at around Rs 3,500 crore to Rs 5,000 crore in the grey market, from a merchant vessel off Gujarat coast on Saturday night after three days of coordinated efforts with the Intelligence Bureau. Heroin produced in Afghanistan is being shipped to Western countries via Sri Lanka, a senior Narcotics Control Bureau official in Chennai disclosed.Though Afghanistan produces the drug, the procurement and distribution network is controlled by Pakistan, the Deccan Chronicle reported. Eight people, all Indians, who were in the vessel, had been apprehended and further investigations are on, said additional director general Krishnaswamy Natarajan, Indian Coast Guard Commander for the Western seaboard, when this newspaper contacted him.A defence ministry press release said the Indian Coast Guard ship Samudra Pavak intercepted and apprehended a merchant vessel carrying approximately 1,500 kg of heroin valued at about Rs 3,500 crore off the coast of Gujarat. Indian officials have already alerted other agencies of drug smugglers using short sea route to send narcotics substance from Pakistan, via India to Sri Lanka, from where it gets ‘exported’ to western countries including US, where the demand for such drug is as high as 2,000 kg per month. A Coast Guard official, when asked if the vessel was coming from Pakistan, noted that the ship was coming from Persian Gulf and was heading towards Bhavnagar port in Gujarat.The Panama registered vessel, Henry, has been under the radar of Indian agencies for many days. “On Saturday night CG team intercepted the vessel and conducted searches to find it was carrying 1,500 kg of heroin,” the official said.A senior Narcotics Control Bureau official in Chennai disclosed that the possibility of the ship coming from Pakistan coast is high and 93 per cent of the heroin produced in Afghanistan is being shipped to Western countries via Sri Lanka. “Only seven per cent is used for medicinal purpose. The rest is being smuggled out to Europe and American continents,” he said. (Colombo Gazette)

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