Global drug cartels resort to alternative sea routes

By | December 4, 2018

In what has raised concerns in the security establishment, drug syndicates, sourcing the contraband from Afghanistan, are resorting to alternate sea routes including through Indian coastline to export these products to Europe and US due to disruption of its three traditional routes namely, North, South and Balkan routes on account of the worsening situation in Iraq and Syria over the last four to five years.

Sources said Tamil Nadu coast has emerged as a vulnerable point in coastal security for movement of drugs. Despite geographical distance, India was being dragged in the movement of narcotics from Afghanistan due to employment of Indian crew on vessels used by international drug cartels for such transshipments. Afghanistan is a major source of heroin, opium and related products and accounts for two-thirds of opium production.

An example of exploitation of the vulnerabilities along the Indian coastline by drug syndicate is the interception of an Iranian ship Prince earlier this year with 10 Indians making up as its crew. The ship with a consignment of 1,500 kg of heroin worth Rs 4,500 crore in the international market was intercepted by the Coast Guard following an input from the NTRO (National Technical Research Organisation). The vessel was loaded with narcotic substances near Gwadar port of Pakistan.

Other instances include seizures seizures of three consignments from Tamil Nadu coast which bound for Sri Lanka. Another attempted smuggling was reported by Narcotics Control Bureau from Tuticorin to Maldives and Sri Lanka.

“Tamil Nadu coast was likely to be used for smuggling of not just low-cost ganja but heroin as well. The need of the hour is to strengthen coastal security to effectively target drug smuggling activities in view of the increasing use of new sea routes,” a senior NCB official said.

In April 2014, an India registered ship MV Satyanarayanawas intercepted by Australian Navy off the coast of Kenya with contraband substances. The investigation had revealed that the ship had started from India made stops at various ports in the Middle East with the last one being at Dubai . The contraband in the ship was supplied through small boats from Pakistan and the crew comprised both Indians and Pakistanis.

The Director General of the Indian Coast Guard has been designated as Commander of the Coastal Command responsible for overall coordination between Central and State agencies in matters relating to coastal security . The Indian Coast Guard has also been nominated to function as the Lead Intelligence Agency for coordination and sharing of intelligence among various agencies operating on the coast. Read More