Ketamine valued at $42.3 million (Rupee300 crore) has been seized by the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) after a successful operation in the Indian Ocean.
As reported in FreightWaves, the bust is the latest in a string of drugs seizures worldwide at ports and at sea.
A combined sea-air operation led to the ICG vessel Rajveer intercepting the cargo vessel near Car Nicobar Islands in Indian waters after it was spotted acting suspiciously by a surveillance plane.
The 1,160 kilograms of ketamine stored onboard in 1kg packets were subsequently seized. ICG told local media the intercepted shipment belonged to a drug cartel with a maritime network spanning the Indian Ocean.
FreightWaves asked ICG for more details about the ownership of the vessel but no response was forthcoming at the time this article was published. Reports claimed the drugs were being transported from Damson Bay in Myanmar and were to be transshipped to another ship operating near the Thailand-Malaysia border.
Local reports also suggested the vessel was Myanmar-flagged and sank in the Indian Ocean while being towed to Port Blair by ICG.
Six crew members from Myanmar have been taken into custody and are being interrogated by officials of India’s Narcotics Control Bureau and local police in Port Blair.
“The drugs were reportedly being supplied to a Southeast Asian country,” Coast Guard Inspector General Manish Pathak told India Today TV. “The entire operation was conducted independently by coast guards after a Dornier surveillance plane detected the vessel’s suspicious movement. Later on, the vessel was apprehended by ICGS Rajveer.”
As reported in FreightWaves, there has been a string of drug seizures on cargo vessels in recent months.
U.K. authorities seized 1,279 kilograms of heroin with a street value of £130 million ($148 million) Aug. 30. The drugs were found stowed on the Maersk Gibraltar at the Port of Felixstowe.
The seizure was the second on a Maersk vessel in just a week; 23,368 kilos of fentanyl arriving from China were found on the Svendborg Maersk at the Port of Lazaro Cardenas in Michoacan, Mexico, on Aug. 23.
In the U.S. the Port of Philadelphia was the scene of a record cocaine bust in June, the second U.S. drug bust this year involving a container ship operated by Mediterranean Shipping Company.
FreightWaves articles by Mike