Chennai | In a joint operation involving the Coast Guard, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) and Customs, 32 kg of gold valued at Rs 20.20 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 here said. The seizure was a result of a specific input from the DRI regarding smuggling of contraband between Sri Lanka and India, following which a joint operation was launched by the Indian Coast Guard and DRI on May 30.
"A joint operation launched by Indian Coast Guard with DRI and customs resulted in seizure of 32.689 kg of gold valued at approximately Rs 20.20 crore, from two fishing boats in the Gulf of Mannar area in Tamil Nadu. The consignment was being smuggled into India from Sri Lanka," it said.
The joint teams deployed by the Coast Guard and the DRI kept a close surveillance on fishing vessels operating in the Gulf of Mannar, especially near the India-Sri Lanka International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL).
On May 30, the joint team detected a suspicious boat approaching Mandapam fishing harbour in Ramanathapuram district.
"When challenged, the boat tried to evade apprehension but was finally apprehended in north Gulf of Mannar. While being chased, the suspects threw the consignment into water prior interception. The boat along with 3 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.
Meanwhile, a separate team from DRI apprehended a second suspicious boat off Vadalai village, south of Mandapam. The boat had about 21.269 kg of smuggled gold, which was seized by 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 June 1. This consignment was found to carry gold bars weighing 11.600 kg," the release said. "The Indian Coast Guard remains steadfast in its resolve to ensure Indian coast remains safe and secure at all times," it added.