A team of officers involved in the operation intercepted a boat on the International maritime board at Jakhau in Kutch

Gujarat police's Anti-terrorism squad (ATS) arrested five alleged Pakistani nationals and seized 35 kg heroin consignment worth Rs 175 crore from their possession kept in a fishing boat in a joint operation with local police and Indian Coast Guard off Jakhau coast late on Sunday night.

A team of officers involved in the operation intercepted a boat on the International maritime board at Jakhau in Kutch. Following their search, 35 packets of contraband heroin were recovered from the Pakistani boat named "JamJam". The boat was carrying five Pakistani nationals who were also arrested.

The Pakistani nationals have been identified as Anees Isa Bhatti, 30, Ismail Mohammed Kachchi, 50, Ashhraf Usman Kutchhi, 42, Kareem Abdulla Kutchhi,37, and Abubaqar Ashraf Sumra, 55, all residents of different parts of Karachi, Pakistan.

"For the past two years, anti-national elements involved in narcotics smuggling are trying to infiltrate contraband drug heroin through the Gujarat coast. Gujarat Police and Indian Coast Guard have conducted various operations to nip the menace in the bud," ATS officials said in a press note. It said that ATS had information about the illegal consignment being smuggled in the state through the coastline.

Last year, ATS had arrested 11 foreigners including nine Iranians with 100 kg heroin worth Rs 500 crore in a similar operation. The probe revealed that a Mumbai-based trader identified as Badruddin S Shaikh, who had gone to Tehran (Iran's capital) to purchase dry fruits specially dates, was contacted by a drug dealer identified as Ali alias Haji who lured the trader to receive the narcotics consignment at Porbandar coast in Gujarat in lieu of Rs10 lakh.

Shaikh was supposed to receive the consignment and hand it over to an Afghan national identified as Niyamat Khan Zai who had come to New Delhi on a medical visa. Zai, along with few other smugglers, was supposed to export the consignment to western countries through various airports and ports in India to avoid getting caught.

A charge sheet named a Pakistani national Hamid Malik, Iranian national Ali alias Haji and Haji Nadir, resident of Afghanistan, as main conspirators. The consignment was to be landed at the Porbandar coast. Shaikh was assigned to hand over the consignment to Zai, who in turn, was directed to take the consignment to Abdul Salam in Kerala. Salam is alleged to be an expert in concealing the contraband in suitcases and is nicked as "packer."

The charge sheet mentioned that nine crew members, all Iranian nationals, of the fishing boat set off for the Porbandar coast with "500 ice blocks, 120 drums of diesel and 40 drums of water and 100 kg of heroin while pretending to be fishermen." In the meanwhile in Delhi, Zai met Mumbai trader Shaikh and gave him Rs 10 lakh cash as he was instructed to receive the drugs.

The charge sheet, filed by investigating officer inspector Mahesh Nayak, stated that Zai also met Kerala resident Salam in Delhi and even before the consignment could come, he sold 5 kg methamphetamine to Salam and earned almost Rs 25 crore from it. During a raid, the police recovered the money. According to the charge sheet, Zai had faked his medical certificate to get a medical visa.

After the ATS operation, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence also caught 218 kg of heroin from Jakhau port which was being smuggled by a crew of six Pakistani nationals in a fishing boat.