Indian Coast Guard Seizes Ketamine Shipment Worth $40M

Image courtesy India Coast Guard

By The Maritime Executive 09-23-2019 09:16:55

On September 19, the Indian Coast Guard intercepted a small Myanmarese vessel and seized about $40 million in ketamine from its holds. 

On a routine surveillance flight September 18, an Indian Coast Guard aircraft detected a suspicious vessel in the Indian EEZ in the vicinity of the Nicobar Islands. The Indian Coast Guard cutter Rajveer was tasked with intercepting the boat and investigating. The Rajveer located the suspect vessel near Car Nicobar on the night of September 19, and when the Rajveer's crew ordered it to halt, it attempted to evade the cutter. The Rajveer ultimately succeeded in forcing the vessel to stop, and its boarding team conducted an inspection. 

On questioning, the boat's crew said that they had departed from Myanmar on September 14 with a cargo of goods in sacks, which they planned to transship to another vessel near Thailand on September 21. The Rajveer's boarding team searched the vessel and found 57 bags of a suspicious substance on board. They transferred the goods to the cutter, along with the vessel's documentation.

During the transit to Port Blair, the Myanmarese vessel began taking on water. Efforts to pump it out were not successful, and it sank on the afternoon of September 20. 

The Rajveer and the detainees reached Port Blair on September 21. The vessel's crew were questioned by India Coast Guard and India's Narcotics Conrol Bureau (NCB). The NCB's initial testing showed that the substance was ketamine, an anaesthetic and popular club drug. With 1,160 one-kilo packets on board, the total shipment value is an estimated $42 million - a large seizure for the India Coast Guard.