The Narcotics Control Bureau will investigate whether the trawler was used to smuggle drugs into India.
The Indian Coast Guard on Saturday April 9 apprehended an Iranian-registered trawler near the Andaman Islands and arrested nine Iranian nationals. The trawler was brought to the port of Chennai from the Andamans. The Indian Coast Guard was on patrol when it spotted an unidentified boat near Indira Point in Andaman.
During an inspection, coastguard personnel found nine people believed to be Iranian nationals inside the boat. As none of them had clearance required to enter Indian waters and they gave evasive answers, the Indian Coast Guard seized the boat. However, law enforcement sources claim that the Narcotics Control Bureau has requested that the trawler be taken to Chennai Port as the agency wants to know if the trawler was used to smuggle drugs into India.
Based on NCB’s request, the boat was brought to Chennai. The BCN is believed to have information that this boat was smuggling drugs. No drugs were found on the boat, but since the major drug seizure at Mundra port last year – where a large shipment of heroin weighing nearly three tonnes was confiscated at the Gujarat port – agencies have intensified surveillance on the route which was carried away by the ship. This Iranian trawler was also traveling on the same route, so it was seized by the coast guard.
Police sources say those arrested said they were looking for another boat that had gone missing and accidentally drifted into Indian waters. Agencies will also verify this version.
It may be noted that in August 2021, a Sri Lankan boat was apprehended by Indian officials and a group of Sri Lankan Tamils were arrested after they were discovered smuggling drugs on the Indian coast. The NIA, after investigation, believed that the smuggled contraband was being used to finance the activities of the now defunct Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
Similarly, the premium investigative agency investigates whether the smuggled drugs were intended to fund nefarious activities. The identities of smugglers are also probed by the NIA as the BCN may not be able to conduct a detailed investigation covering all aspects of the smugglers.
The Tamil Nadu Coast Police and Marine Police are also on high alert with the Coast Guard to prevent any smuggling into the state following the Coast Guard’s interception of Iranian nationals at sea.