Narcotics trade hit by Police vigilance

Almost 40,000 kg of drugs seized and over 13,000 arrests made in the first quarter
By Damith Wickremasekara

Over 13,000 persons have been arrested for narcotics related offences in the first four months of this year. Nearly one-third of them, or 4,260 persons, were linked to heroin related cases, of which 3,954 were arrested by outstation police, the latest statistics of the Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) revealed.
Of the 13,407 persons arrested for narcotics related offences, 9,142 were for cannabis and 8,947 of them were from the outstations. There were four arrests for cocaine, and one each for opium and hashish.

Packets of heroin found during a raid at the apartment complex in Kotte

In all, 8 kg heroin, 39,900 kg cannabis, 7 kg cocaine and 366 gm of hashish were seized. The biggest detection of heroin was made by the PNB with 5 kg, followed by outstation police stations which detected 2 kg.

One of the latest detections of drugs came when the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) raided an apartment complex in Kotte and found 1 kg heroin. “We believe the location was one of the main transit points for Colombo,” a senior CID official told the Sunday Times.

“The location had been under surveillance for more than six months before the raid was carried out, because if we had carried out a search operation, the suspects may have escaped,” the officer said.
The CID sleuths had tracked the suspect who delivered lunch for those involved in packeting the drugs. “The ‘delivery man’ had to ring the bell thrice and disclose his name, when the persons inside would open the door,” the officer added.

The CID raid on the apartment, yielded 4,000 packets of heroin for dispatch, Rs 7.4 million in cash which was the collection from the sale of drugs, along with three females and two males who were packing the drugs. The workers were rostered in two-hour shifts, the CID found.

“We also found that the drugs were being mixed with a commonly used pain killer, in order to increase the capacity or the weight,” the officer added. The apartment had been rented out at Rs 90,000 per month, while the estimated turnover from the ‘enterprise’ was over Rs 7 million.

The main culprit is already under arrest, while another female accomplice had been taken into custody earlier, after her husband who was a known drug trafficker fled the country. In a separate raid by the PNB in Gonawala last week, a drug trafficker was arrested while transporting 600 gm heroin and Rs 28 million in cash. “He is believed to be one of the main suppliers of drugs,” a senior police officer said.

Police spokesman SP Ajith Rohana told the Sunday Times that due to the successful raids, heroin transport has dwindled. “We have found that the main supply routes are across Mannar, Puttalam and Chilaw. Naval operations are also helping to curtail the drug supply”, he added.

“There have been instances where foreigners are looking to use Sri Lanka as a transit point, but the recent arrests of foreigners has helped reduce foreigners using Colombo as a transit point,” he added.
He said that the reward system for information leading to detection of narcotics operations has also been useful.

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