COLOMBO: Sri Lankan authorities said on Wednesday they had arrested five Pakistanis and an Iranian national over an attempt to smuggle hundreds of kilograms of heroin off the country’s southern coast.
A fishing vessel manned by the suspects was seized by the Sri Lanka Navy on the high seas about 900 nautical miles (1,600 km) south of Colombo last week.
The ship was carrying 250 kg of heroin estimated to be worth $12 million and was brought ashore by the navy to the port of Colombo on Wednesday where the suspected smugglers were handed over to police.
“The police say that the suspects are five Pakistanis and one Iranian, and we have handed them to the Police Narcotics Bureau today,” Capt. Indika De Silva, the navy’s spokesperson, told Arab News.
He added that the drug bust followed tipoffs and was a joint operation conducted by the navy and the bureau. Though Sri Lankan authorities said the suspects were all Pakistanis bar one Iranian, a senior official from the Pakistan High Commission in Colombo said their nationalities might have been mixed.
“Since they share the same border and speak Persian (as) a common language, the local authorities would have got mixed up with the nationalities,” he told Arab News on condition of anonymity.
He added that he believed those arrested were in fact five Iranians and one Pakistani national. The Embassy of Iran in Sri Lanka said it had no knowledge about the operation.