Sri Lanka arrests
5 Pakistanis, one Iranian
in heroin haul

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COLOMBO: Sri Lankan authorities said on Wednesday they had arrested five Pakistanis and an Iranian national over an attempt to smuggle hundreds of kilograms of heroin off the country’s southern coast, though a Pakistani official said only one national of the country was in custody.

According to a Arab News report, a fishing vessel manned by the foreigners was seized by the Sri Lanka Navy on the high seas about 900 nautical miles (1,600 kilometers) south of Colombo last week.

In this undated photo, Sri Lankan Navy seizes a fishing boat and its crew carrying narcotics.

The ship was carrying 250 kilograms of heroin estimated to be worth $12 million and was brought ashore by the navy to the port of Colombo on Wednesday where the suspected smugglers were handed over to police.

“Police say that the suspects are five Pakistanis and one Iranian, and we have handed them to the Police Narcotics Bureau today,” navy spokesperson Captain Indika De Silva told Arab News, adding that the bust followed tip offs and was a joint operation by the navy and Police Narcotic Bureau.

A senior official at the Pakistan High Commission in Colombo said the nationalities might have been mixed up and five Iranians and one Pakistani had been arrested. Arab News could not independently verify the number of Iranians and Pakistanis in custody. 

“Since they share the same border and speak Persian (as) a common language, local authorities would have got mixed up with the nationalities,” the official told Arab News on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The Iranian embassy in Colombo said it had no knowledge of the operation.