In a joint operation involving the Coast Guard, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) and Customs, over 32 kg of gold, valued at approximately ₹20.2 crore, including 11 kg that was dumped in the sea, has been recovered.
The gold was being smuggled into India from Sri Lanka, an official release from the Coast Guard in Chennai said.
About the operation
The seizure was a result of a specific input from the DRI regarding the smuggling of contraband between Sri Lanka and India, following which a joint operation was launched by the Indian Coast Guard and the DRI on 30 May.
“A joint operation launched by Indian Coast Guard with DRI and customs resulted in the seizure of 32.689 kg of gold, valued at approximately ₹20.2 crore, from two fishing boats in the Gulf of Mannar area in Tamil Nadu. The consignment was being smuggled into India from Sri Lanka,” stated the release.
@IndiaCoastGuard in joint ops with DRI seized total 33kg of illegally smuggled transhipment of gold in #GulfofMannar.
Rummaging revealed that gold was also thrown overboard & successfully retrieved from seabed. Joint seizure of gold (with 21kg by DRI) is worth Rs.20.2Cr pic.twitter.com/IwWsvksjQo
— Indian Coast Guard (@IndiaCoastGuard) June 1, 2023
The joint teams deployed by the Coast Guard and the DRI kept close surveillance on fishing vessels operating in the Gulf of Mannar, especially near the India-Sri Lanka International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL).
On 30 May, the joint team detected a suspicious boat approaching the Mandapam fishing harbour in Ramanathapuram district.
“When challenged, the boat tried to evade apprehension but was finally apprehended in the North Gulf of Mannar. While being chased, the suspects threw the consignment into the water prior to interception. The boat, along with three suspects, was apprehended and taken into custody for investigation,” the release said.
“Simultaneously, a major diving operation was launched by Indian Coast Guard to search for the illegal gold dumped at sea,” the release added.
A second boat
Meanwhile, a separate team from the DRI apprehended a second suspicious boat off Vedalai village, south of Mandapam. The boat had about 21.269 kg of smuggled gold, which was seized by the DRI, along with two suspects who were taken into custody.
“After a relentless diving operation off the coast of Mandapam for two days, the ICG diving team — in coordination with local divers — successfully recovered the gold consignment from the sea bed on the morning of 1 June. This consignment was found to carry gold bars weighing 11.600 kg,” the release stated.
“The Indian Coast Guard remains steadfast in its resolve to ensure the Indian coast remains safe and secure at all times,” it added.