A 32.68 kg gold shipment was seized by Revenue Intelligence officers valued at around Rs 20.2 crores from two fishing boats in the Gulf of Mannar region near Tamil Nadu.
The gold consignment, which was being illegally smuggled to India from Sri Lanka via the sea route, was intercepted and confiscated by the authorities, as reported by news agency ANI.
The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) and Department of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) jointly carried out the operation after two days of thorough underwater searches.
Suspicious element sent officials to task
Subtle hints of gold smuggling across the Gulf of Mannar, sent officials to task by keeping a close eye on the fishing boats close to the international boundary of India. On seeing three men throwing bundles into the sea, the operational team took them to custody and deployed sea-divers to search the bundles.
According to the information from the three men, two more smugglers from another boat were arrested by DRI officials off Venthalai village area and nabbed 21.3 kg of the metal worth Rs 20.2 crores.
Elaborating on the operation, Deputy director general (Operations) of the Indian Coast Guard, Manish Pathak provided further details, stating that the suspicious fishing boats were closely monitored at sea. When the boats were pursued and confronted, one of them was apprehended, while the other dumped the gold consignment into the sea. In an ongoing effort, diving operations have been tirelessly conducted until Thursday morning to recover the submerged gold. The individuals suspected of involvement have been arrested.
Pathak emphasized that the current leadership is highly intolerant of any illegal activities and a coordinated endeavor will be made to curb all forms of anti-national activities along the Indian coast.
A video shared by ANI depicted the diving operations, featuring Indian Coast Guard personnel submerging themselves underwater equipped with knives to locate the consignment. Upon discovery, they can be seen employing ropes to transport the retrieved seizure back to the boat.
Origin of the smuggled gold
According to sources, the 21.3 kg gold seemed to have been melted transformed into gold biscuits of different sizes. Investigators revealed that the sign on top showed Dubai as the origin country. 100 gold biscuits were found, each weighing 116 gm.
The porous 1076 km long coastline of Tamil Nadu which is second in length to Gujarat’s , emerges as the most used smuggling route between India and Sri Lanka right from the days of LTTE.
Since the economic crisis of Sri Lanka, substances such as beedi leaves, medicinal drugs, diesel etc have been smuggled earlier via Tamil Nadu.