Indian counterterrorism police seize $52 million narcotics haul from Iran

Five Iranians were arrested by Indian counterterrorism forces after being found in possession of narcotics worth $51.9 million. (@GujaratPolice)
Five Iranians were arrested by Indian counterterrorism forces after being found in possession of narcotics worth $51.9 million. (@GujaratPolice)
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Updated 07 March 2023
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Indian counterterrorism police seize $52 million narcotics haul from Iran

Indian counterterrorism police seize $52 million narcotics haul from Iran
  • Haul of 61 kg was transported by boat from Iranian port of Chabahar
  • Group of 5 Iranian smugglers arrested by police in overnight operation

NEW DELHI: A group of five Iranian nationals were arrested by Indian counterterrorism forces after being found in possession of narcotics worth $51.9 million, the chief of police in Gujarat said on Tuesday following an overnight operation at sea.

The 61 kg haul of drugs was being transported by boat from the port of Chabahar in Iran’s southeast by Iranian smugglers and a gang based in northern India, Gujarat Director General of Police Vikas Sahay said in a special press conference.

Acting on intelligence, personnel from the state’s counterterrorism unit and coast guards intercepted the Iranian vessel off the coastal town of Okha, near India’s maritime border, on Monday night.

“The Anti-Terrorism Squad of Gujarat Police and Indian Coast Guard have apprehended a suspicious boat along with five Iran nationals 180 nautical miles from Okha. Sixty-one kilograms of a narcotic substance worth approximately RS425 crores ($51.9 million) was seized from the boat,” Sahay said.

It was the latest in a series of drug busts off the coast of Gujarat involving Iranian smugglers.

In mid-September 2021, in the country’s biggest narcotics bust, the Indian Directorate of Revenue Intelligence seized almost 3,000 kg of heroin, which reached the country from the Bandar Abbas port in southern Iran concealed in semi-processed talc stones.

Days later, seven Iranians in possession of more than 30 kg of narcotics were detained in another bust.

“Drugs go to Iran from Afghanistan. Traffickers use the India route to send the consignments to other parts of the world also,” defence analyst Ranjit Singh told Arab News.

But in recent years, India has deployed massive coastal surveillance systems, allowing security forces to quickly intercept suspicious vessels.

“The Coast Guard has been equipped with new surveillance infrastructure. Coastal radars were set up. Fishermen were given new identity devices. This has helped the Coast Guard in keeping a close watch on any unidentified boat roaming in Indian coastal areas,” Singh said.

“Terrorists and drug traffickers will find it very difficult to survive in such heavily secured waters.”