Mumbai/Ahmedabad: Indian defence agencies have seized a boat with eight Pakistanis on board and carrying narcotics worth around Rs.6 billion ($95 m), in the Arabian Sea off the Gujarat coast on Monday, the government confirmed on Tuesday.
The vessel, fitted with sophisticated communication systems, was intercepted in international waters in a joint operation by the Indian Navy (IN) and the Indian Coast Guard (ICG).
The eight Pakistani nationals and the boat - the origin and destination of which were not disclosed - are being taken to Porbandar port in Gujarat for further investigations by law enforcement officials, Intelligence Bureau personnel, Indian Navy and ICG.
"The initial investigations by ICG Sangram have led to recovery of 232 packets of narcotics (suspected to be heroin and worth up to Rs.600 crores in the international market). Additionally, satellite communication phones and Global Positioning Systems, being used to facilitate trans-shipment of the contraband to another boat were also confiscated," the statement said.
Following intelligence inputs, the operation to trace the suspicious vessel was launched on April 18 in close coordination with the Indian Navy western command, along with the ICG north-west regional headquarters.
Later, multiple units of the Indian Navy, including INS Nirghat and INS Kondul, and ICG Sangram joined the search, besides extensive aerial searches by their Dorniers, IL-38 and P8I aircraft.
This is the first major operation by the Indian agencies in the Gujarat region after the January 1 incident this year when a suspected smuggling boat had blown up, creating a major controversy between India and Pakistan.