RAMESWARAM: Rs 1.48 crore worth gold — weighing three-and-a-half kilogram — was seized from three Sri Lankan nationals on Sunday. They were found trespassing into Indian waters near the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) by a patrol helicopter of the Indian Navy on Saturday.
Four fishermen from Thangachimadam, who were reportedly to take delivery of the gold, have been detained for interrogation.
According to sources, the helicopter from INS Parundu, during a surveillance sortie, spotted a fibre boat with three men aboard crossing the IMBL around 11 am on Saturday. Though the men tried to flee back to Sri Lanka, they were reportedly chased to the shores of Arichalmunai, where they were detained by the marine police later.
The preliminary investigation identified the suspects as S Thomas Loius (31), A Suganth (26) and D Sahaya Vinistow (24) — all from Talaimannar of Sri Lanka. The men, believed to be fishermen by trade, were also questioned by the Dhanushkodi police and the Q-branch police. The trio were supposed to hand the smuggled gold over to four fishermen from Thangachimadam, added sources. Based on their statements, the four fishermen — Dhiyoni, Dhanushiyus, Lakshmanan and Sarveswaran — were detained for questioning.
The gold, in 35 bars, had been stashed inside the rear of the fibre boat. The officials had to break the boat open to recover the gold, which was handed over to customs officials in Rameswaram on Sunday.