Tri-nation naval excercise held to curb narcotics smuggling

Indian, Sri Lankan Navies and Maldives National Defence Force took part in the event

A tri-nation table top anti-narcotics and maritime search and rescue exercise, ‘Exercise Shield’, was held between Indian and Sri Lankan Navies and Maldives National Defence Force to share best practices and fine-tune procedures amid growing instances of narcotics smuggling in the region.

“The exercise was focused at enhancing maritime security cooperation and mutual understanding, exchange of best practices, procedures for countering common trans-national maritime crimes such as narcotics smuggling, evolving modalities for exchanging information, intelligence and to assist each other in maritime search and rescue,” a Navy statement said.

The table top exercise and simulation was held virtually on July 14 and 15 with the Indian Navy’s Western Naval Command as the lead agency.

“The exercise coordinated by Maritime Warfare Centre, Mumbai is part of ongoing efforts towards strengthening maritime partnership amongst the three countries and further boost the security environment in the Indian Ocean Region [IOR],” the Navy stated.

There has been a steep increase in recovery of narcotics in the IOR in recent years and has been a major concern for maritime security agencies.

For instance, in April the Navy had recovered over 300 kg of narcotics from a fishing vessel in the Arabian Sea estimated to cost ₹3,000 crore in the international market. The Navy had then stated that it was a major catch in terms of disrupting smuggling routes, which emanate from the Makran coast and flow towards the Indian, Maldivian and Sri Lankan destinations.

Similarly, in February the Coast Guard seized a major narcotics transshipment estimated at ₹2,100 crore in the Lakshadweep Sea.

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