A foreign fishing vessel carrying another haul of heroin worth over Rs.3100 million intercepted by Navy

A successful operation led by Sri Lanka Navy in coordination with Sri Lanka Police and other intelligence services in international waters south of Sri Lanka, led to the seizure of a foreign fishing vessel carrying over 336kg (including the packages) of heroin worth over Rs.3100 million gross street value. The drug transferring vessel together with 07 foreign nationals aboard was brought this morning (04th September 2021) to Colombo harbour, where Defence Secretary, General (Retd.) Kamal Gunaratne and Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne were also present to inspect the apprehended haul of narcotics.

A couple of days earlier, Sri Lanka Navy Intelligence and State Intelligence Service carried out a similar operation based on information received from a coordinated intelligence operation. That operation made way to take hold of about 290kg and 200g stock of heroin, attempted to be smuggled into the island by sea and apprehension of 05 suspects and the multi-day fishing vessel being used for the illegal act.

Making use of information divulged from the earlier anti-drug operation as well as more intelligence information received to Sri Lanka Police, the recent operation was set in motion, deploying the Offshore Patrol Vessels SLNS Gajabahu and SLNS Samudura of Sri Lanka Navy, in international waters. During this operation, SLNS Samudura managed to intercept a suspicious foreign fishing vessel in high seas about 740 nautical miles (about 1370km) south of Sri Lankan shores. The subsequent search of the suspicious vessel led to the recovery about 336Kg 300g (including the packages) of heroin in 301 packages stashed in the vessel. As such, the consignment of narcotics along with 07 foreign nationals onboard was taken into custody and the drug-smuggling vessel was escorted to the Colombo harbour this morning (04th September) by SLNS Samudura.

It is suspected that this foreign fishing vessel carrying the narcotics was supposed to be stationed by smugglers in international waters to get narcotics transferred and fetch them into the country, under the guise of a vessel engaging in multi-day fishing activities. Meanwhile, the gross street value of the heroin seized during the operation is believed to be over Rs.3100 million.

The operation was conducted adhering to COVID-19 protocols in force to prevent the transmission of the pandemic and the identity of the apprehended foreign suspects has not yet been confirmed. Onward investigations and legal proceedings into the incident will be carried out by the Navy and Police Narcotic Bureau.

Speaking on this occasion, Defence Secretary, General (Retd.) Kamal Gunaratne expressed his gratitude to the Commanding Officer and crew of SLNS Samudura for seizing this consignment of narcotics, anxiously remaining alert despite rough sea conditions. Further, on behalf of His Excellency the President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the Government, the Defence Secretary heaped praise on Commander of the Navy as well as the entire Navy for their praiseworthy effort to bring these drug traffickers who are destroying the future generations of the country, to justice. He also thanked the Inspector General of Police, Police officers and officers of the Police Narcotic Bureau for their fullest support during this operation.

Regardless of the current pandemic situation, the Sri Lanka Navy, as the First Line of Defense of the country, is determined effective application of its resources to carry out similar operations, in close coordination with law enforcement authorities, to wipe out the drug menace from society.