Ex-LTTE man arrested for smuggling AK-47s, ammo, 300kg heroin from Pakistan to Sri Lanka

Written By: Sidharth MP WION Web Team
Chennai, india Published: Oct 08, 2021, 08:55 PM(IST)

AK-47 rifles Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

The LTTE is a notorious terror organisation, known for its 1991 suicide bombing, assassinating former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and over a dozen others, near Chennai

India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) has arrested a former LTTE (Liberation Tamil Tigers Eelam) intelligence wing member from a residential locality in Chennai. 

According to the NIA, the arrest was made in connection with a case wherein 300kg of high-grade heroin, 5 AK-47 rifles, with 1000 live 9mm rounds, were being ferried by sea to Sri Lanka from Pakistan, when it was intercepted off Kerala Coast by Indian Coast Guard (ICG), earlier this year. 

The LTTE is a notorious terror organisation, known for its 1991 suicide bombing, assassinating former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and over a dozen others, near Chennai.

On Tuesday, the premier investigative agency arrested a Sri Lankan national, Satkunam alias Sabesan, aged 47, from Valasaravakkam in Chennai. It is reported that he is involved in trafficking arms and drugs from Pakistan, the proceeds of which he utilizes in reviving the LTTE, a banned terrorist organization.

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“The Investigation has revealed that accused Satkunam alias Sabesan had arranged conspiracy meetings of LTTE sympathisers in India. He had played a crucial role in routing the proceeds of drugs trafficking to former LTTE cadres in Sri Lanka for the revival of the LTTE,” said the NIA. They added that further investigation was being conducted. 

Based on a complaint from the Indian Narcotics Control Bureau, the NIA began investigating this case on May 1st.

WION had reported on the drugs and arms seizure in March of this year. 

Also read | Indian Coast Guard’s big haul: Over USD 412 million worth drugs, 5 Ak-47rifles, 1,000 rounds seized

Based on intelligence inputs concerning drug trafficking, Indian Coast Guard air and sea assets intercepted three Sri Lankan boats off the Lakshadweep region on India’s west coast on 18th March. 

A vessel named Ravihansi was boarded and searched, and 300kg of high-grade heroin, five Ak-47 rifles and 1000 live rounds of ammunition were seized. This seized contraband is estimated to be worth INR 30,000 million (3,000 Crore) or USD 400 million (40 Crore). 

Boarding and search of the three vessels led to the seizure of 300kg high-grade heroin, 5 Ak-47 rifles with 1000 live rounds, from one vessel named Ravihansi. The estimated value of the seized contraband is Rs.3000cr or USD 40cr. 

The Sri Lankan boat and its 19 crew members were escorted to Vizhinjam in Kerala for a further joint investigation by Indian authorities. 

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Speaking about the operation, K Natarajan, ICG Director-General, said that the ICG received the intelligence on 15th March and five ships were diverted, along with an aircraft that was coordinating the operation. 

As the vessels were moving suspiciously south of Minicoy on March 18th, the ICG made contact, he added. 

“Certain movement indicated that the vessels had contraband on board. We encountered a vessel named Chetrani 6 towing a fishing boat Ravhansi, which had a technical snag. Boarding and searching was done from 18th and after two days of search the concealed weapons and drugs were seized” he said. 

According to India’s Coast Guard, this is the second major anti-drug trafficking operation undertaken by them off the West Coast, in the month of March 2021. 

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On March 5th, in a similar operation, the ICG had apprehended the Sri Lankan vessel 'Akarsha Duwa', off Minicoy island. The boat with six crew had admitted to carrying 200kg of Heroin, 60kg hashish, which they jettisoned at sea, on sighting ICG assets.

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