In what is termed the biggest drug bust in recent times, the Indian authorities have seized 3000 pounds(1500kg) of heroin from a merchant ship off the coast of the western state of Gujarat, according to a statement by the coast guard.
The Panama-registered ship was coming from Iran and was intercepted after a three-day long operation.
India has stringent narcotics laws, with a minimum sentence of 10 years imprisonment for heroin smuggling offenses.
India’s close proximity to Afghanistan — the world’s largest producer of opium — has seen it become an integral transit hub in the global drugs smuggling trade.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimates that Afghanistan manufactures over 90% of the world’s opium — the main ingredient in heroin — most of which is smuggled via maritime routes to India, before being shipped to Europe and North America.
However, not all drugs are exported. The northern Indian state of Punjab has seen a growing heroin problem of its own in recent years.
A national survey in 2015 reported over 860,000 opioid users in the state, which has a population of 27 million people.
The report found that young males were “disproportionately affected,” and that of the numerous opioids used among users heroin remained the most popular.