Navy seizes 3.7 tonnes of smuggled dried turmeric
During operations over the last three days, the Navy seized approximately 3.7 tonnes of smuggled dried turmeric and arrested 10 suspects. During special operations conducted on the beaches of South Bar and Irukkampiddi, as well as in the seas south of Mannar on 16, 17 and 18 September, the Navy was able to seize over 3,704 kilogrammes of smuggled dried turmeric and arrested four local suspects in a dinghy, as well as six Indian nationals and an Indian dhow used in these illegal acts.
The Sri Lanka Navy has been undertaking regular operations to combat smuggling via sea routes. A suspicious Indian dhow was intercepted and searched in Sri Lankan seas over the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) in a similar operation conducted by the Northwestern Naval Command, which deployed the Inshore Patrol Craft P261 and P233. The investigation resulted in the recovery of approximately 2,100 kilogrammes of smuggled dried turmeric in 60 sacks.
As a result, the dried turmeric supply, as well as the 6 Indian nationals aboard and the dinghy, were taken into Naval custody.The smugglers are thought to have planned to exchange dried turmeric brought by the Indian dhow with a local vessel mid-sea in order to bring it onshore. Furthermore, during a special operation on 17 September night in the lagoon area of South Bar, Sri Lanka Naval Ship (SLNS) Gajaba of the North Central Naval Command noticed a suspicious dinghy moving beachward via South Bar lagoon.
During the search for the dinghy, the Navy found 866.2 kg of dried turmeric in 20 sacks. The Navy also arrested four individuals and seized the dinghy involved in the racket. In a separate operation, a team of Marines linked to SLNS Gajaba in the North Central Naval Command seized a supply of dried turmeric in 22 sacks immersed in Irukkampiddi lagoon on 16 September morning.
The turmeric shipment weighed around 738.7kg when wet. The six Indian nationals and the Indian dhow detained in the seas south of Mannar were returned back to their home waters yesterday (19). The dried turmeric stock seized in that operation has been retained in Naval custody until it can be produced for further legal action.
Meanwhile, the accused detained in South Bar have been identified as Mannar citizens, aged 21 to 34. The suspects were turned over to the Mannar Public Health Inspector to be quarantined. Furthermore, the dried turmeric stock and the dinghy used in these operations are being held in Naval custody until they are produced for further legal action. (NV)