Home Contact Us  

Military & Defence - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#4654, 11 September 2014
Drug Smuggling across the Indian Ocean: Impact of Increasing Interceptions
Vijay Sakhuja
Director, National Maritime Foundation, New Delhi.

Is there an increasing cooperation in the Indian Ocean to curb drug smuggling today? After piracy and terrorism, are the drug smugglers and their network being targeted now in the Indian Ocean? What is the nature of counter actions so far, and what needs to be done further?

The Kenyan Operations, August 2014
Last month, President Uhuru Kenyatta flew in a Kenyan Air Force helicopter escorted by two Russian made MI 17 helicopters to personally oversee the destruction of the ship MV Bushehr Amin Darya alias  Al Noor with its cargo of about 370 Kilograms of heroin worth US $ 11.4 million in international market. The vessel was escorted out of the harbour by three Kenyan naval ships and sunk 18 nautical miles from the coast by using explosives. Significantly, the President acted despite the Kenyan High Court ruling that the destruction of the vessel should be delayed till the trial of the accused (9 foreigners and 3 Kenyans) is completed. Also, the court admitted the defense counsel’s plea that the sinking of the vessel had safety and environmental risks. 

President Kenyatta’s initiative should be seen as a strong message to the drug mafia, smuggling ships and agents both in Kenya and overseas about his country’s commitment to prevent labeling Kenya as a transshipment hub of illicit global trade in narcotics. In recent times, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) cited ‘Kenya as a transit point for re-packaging and trans-shipment of drugs to Europe and America’. Perhaps what is more disturbing is that east coast of Africa is also popular among drug smugglers from Colombia. 

Countering the Drug Network: Actions in 2014
In the first half of 2014, a number of boats / dhows carrying drugs have been intercepted by the ships of Combined Task Force (CTF) 150 operating under the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF).  In January 2014, HMCS Toronto, a Canadian warship intercepted a vessel carrying 280 kilograms of heroin packed in 265 bags about 40 nautical miles off the coast of Tanzania. A few months later, a British Royal navy ship HMS Somerset intercepted a fishing boat carrying 60 kilograms of drugs. This was followed by Australian Navy’s HMAS Darwin intercepting a dhow carrying 1032 kilograms of heroin in 46 sacks concealed in the consignment of bags of cement. Apparently, the drugs were to be transferred on the high seas to three dhows, bound for Zanzibar and Malindi which is known to be a haven for drug smugglers and money launderers. 
It has been the policy of the Combined Maritime Forces to destroy the contraband at sea and allow the crew and the dhows to continue on their voyage. Apparently, this is due to operational constraints since escorting the captured vessel back to home countries would entail long legal processes. Further, this approach could be attributed to the absence of onboard ‘mechanism to enable drug trafficking prosecutions.’ The UNODC is of the view that the drug smugglers should be prosecuted and not allowed to escape with impunity.

The above intercepts off the east coast of Africa suggest that the drug consignments may have originated in South Asia (Afghanistan / Pakistan / India), Southeast Asia (Thailand / Myanmar) and Latin America (Colombia). Further, East African coast (Djibouti, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia and Tanzania) has emerged as the transshipment hub and some reports suggest that on an average, nearly 24 tons of drugs valued at US $ 190 million are smuggled annually from the region. The easy availability of drug in East Africa appears to have encouraged Al Shabaab which is most active in Somalia, to have links with drug cartels and the drug business helps the organization to acquire weapons and other logistics. 

What Next?
After the attacks on USS Cole, MV Limburg and the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, maritime security analysts were able to impress upon policy makers that robust maritime capabilities were critical to address  terrorism in the littorals and at sea. Likewise, over the past five years, the Combined Maritime Forces have successfully controlled the Somali piracy and according only ten incidents of attack on shipping have been reported in waters around Gulf of Aden-Red Sea- Somalia coast which is a welcome sign. 

Apparently the strategic community has got ‘locked’ into counter terrorism and anti piracy. The drug hauls illustrated above clearly showcases that maritime security has several dimensions and the policy-makers would have to understand the complex nature of security in the maritime domain. Although the threat of maritime terrorism may have reduced and piracy off Somalia contained, the Indian Ocean littorals would need to develop capacities to address new forms of threats and challenges. In that context, EUNAVFOR and NATO decision to extend operations until the end of 2016 in the Indian Ocean is a welcome development.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within

OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


Browse by Publications

Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Naxalite Violence 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
South China Sea: Unmanned Vessels and Future Operations

Swarm Drones: Could they Shape the Future of Naval Warfare?

Maritime Digital Trends in 2018

India and Blue Economy in the Bay of Bengal

Microbeads and Microfibre: A Big Challenge for Blue Economy

Short Sea Shipping in Bay of Bengal Takes Baby Steps

Plastic Litter: The Challenge at Sea

Marine Mammal Stranding: Myth, Mystery and Facts

Dhow Trade in the North Arabian Sea

Maritime Issues: Proactive Initiatives

Towards a North Arabian Maritime Partnership

Forecast 2016: Indian Ocean Politics and Security

Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage

Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness

IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Indian Ocean: Why India Seeks Demilitarisation

India and Maritime Security: Do More

Asia and the Seas: Looking Back to Look Forward

Indian Ocean and the IORA: Search and Rescue Operations

Pirates Prefer Energy Cargo

Maritime Terrorism: Karachi as a Staging Point

Xi Jinping and the Maritime Silk Road: The Indian Dilemma

Maritime Silk Road: Can India Leverage It?

Indian Ocean: Multilateralism Takes Root

BRICS: The Oceanic Connections

Y! MyWeb
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2018
 January  February
 2017  2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010
 2009  2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002
 2001  2000  1999  1998  1997

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2018, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.