During the first quarter of the year 2020, Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) of Sri Lanka Navy in high seas, producing successful results, were able to seize foreign vessels carrying large consignments of heroin, crystal methamphetamine (ice) and ketamine and apprehend a number of drug traffickers.
Making yet another significant milestone in naval operations, the Navy was able to detect a vessel without a flag state in high seas about 548 nautical miles (985km) off Sri Lankan shores and found about 260kg of heroin and 56kg of crystal methamphetamine in a foreign vessel. Seven (07) suspects, believed to be Iranians, onboard the vessel were also taken into naval custody.
This is a result of an operation carried out by Sri Lanka Navy based on information received from persons aboard 03 vessels seized in high seas earlier this year. Further, international information exchange, facts revealed during data analysis of satellite communication were also used into good effect in this operation.
Based on these analyses, on March 30, one of the Sri Lanka Navy's OPV was sent out for a 14-day operation in high seas. After 02 days of voyage, the SLN Offshore Patrol Vessel crossed the equator and observed all previously identified sea routes for nine days. On the 10th day (around 11.00 a.m. on 10th April 2020) she was able to spot the foreign vessel loaded with drugs. Satellite images was also obtained with international cooperation during this voyage, which also helped to confirm these routes, in particular.
The Sri Lanka Navy is playing a vital role to block the drug supply networks in high seas, by means of major ships in its arsenal, and it has turned out to be a priceless force in the national programme to eradicate drug menace from the island.
The value of the recently seized consignment of drugs is believed to be Rs. 3,270 million. Including this stock, the Navy has seized 687kg of heroin, 795kg of crystal methamphetamine and 579kg of ketamine during naval operations in high seas, this year alone.