Vice Admiral Ajendra Bahadur Singh, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Western Naval Command on Saturday said that drug trafficking cases have increased through maritime routes after the United States has withdrawn troops from Afghanistan.
“We are getting many cases which means the numbers have increased. Ever since the US has withdrawn their troops from Afghanistan there are limited forces. And if the country is producing drugs, it will export them and the routes are only land or sea. So whoever comes through sea we try and catch it,” the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Western Naval Command said on Saturday while addressing media at the Navy Day annual press conference of Navy Week 2022 onboard the Indian Navy's latest stealth guided missile destroyer INS Visakhapatnam.
According to the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) report, drug trafficking through sea routes in the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal is estimated to account for around 70 per cent of the total illegal drug smuggled into India. The report also stated that the use of maritime routes by international drug syndicates based in Pakistan and Afghanistan is only expected to increase.
Recently, Indian Navy ship INS Tabar along with NCB officials successfully seized around 529 kg of very high-quality hashish, 234 kg of finest quality crystal methamphetamine and some quantity of heroin. The catch was made along the country's western coast and the consignment packed in multiple bags was brought to the Porbandar coast in Gujarat.
In October this year, in a major drug bust, the Indian Navy took two people into custody for possessing psychoactive drugs worth Rs 200 crore. The Iran and Pakistan nationals were later handed over to the NCB. Earlier last year, the Indian Naval Ship INS Suvarna encountered a fishing vessel with suspicious movements and during the search operation, it seized more than 300 kg of narcotics substances. The boat, along with the crew, was escorted to the Kochi port in Kerala.
“We receive inputs from national and international agencies and then act upon it. Anything at the blue water after 200 nautical miles is the Navy's responsibility so we take the operations when we have the inputs. When it comes to acting on it we display our resources manned and unmanned systems and whichever ship is in the vicinity we quickly deploy that and conduct these operations. Everything is coordinated with the level of command and with the agency. And it's a security and time-sensitive operation so when the operation gets completed we get the people and handover them over to the narcotics department and then we don't talk about it,” said the FOC.
He further added that along with the drugs smugglers are also getting caught which restricts narcotics to enter the country. “Narcotic operations are worked along with other agencies of other countries. If drug holes are getting caught it means there is a success in catching the smugglers. Our intelligence system is good that they are not coming into the country. If they are on land, customs check them and the Indian Navy is there to catch them at sea,” concluded the FOC of Western Naval Command.
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