National Security strengthened, drugs, crime under close watch – Defence Secretary

Kamal Gunaratne - Defence Secretary of Sri Lanka

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa over this short span of less than two years has taken many measures to ensure national security and eradicate the underworld, drugs and crimes, Defence Secretary General Kamal Gunaratne said yesterday.

Addressing a media briefing held at the Defence Ministry yesterday, he said, “It is certainly not an easy task to make this country free from crimes, the underworld and drugs. Hence, this is a journey that has to be done systematically. From the beginning of his tenure the President mapped out a plan on how this task should be carried out. After I assumed duties as the Defence Secretary I held several rounds of talks with the Tri-Forces Commanders, intelligence units and the IGP. We meet every week and a broad evaluation of the previous week’s incidents and the action needed to be taken is done. This cannot be done individually and the Defence Ministry and the Public Security Ministry together with their affiliated institutions are engaged in a joint effort.”

The Defence Secretary noted that the majority of organized crimes are operated by underworld kingpins who are in prison or by those who have fled the country and are overseas. He noted that the sacrifices and risks that the police officers and Security Forces take to apprehend such criminals would be pointless if they continue to operate their underworld illegal activities from within prison.

“Hence, the need arose to clean up the prisons. Accordingly, the President appointed a Task Force to look into these matters which is headed by me and includes the Tri-Forces Commanders, the Prisons Commissioner General and the IGP. We meet regularly together with the intelligence members and devised a plan to identify the most dangerous criminals in prison. We moved all these criminals to the Boossa High Security Prison and had the Army install mobile phone jammers to prevent them from communicating with the outside world.”

He noted that the authorities had seized over 5,000 mobile phones and over 10,000 SIM cards from prisons which clearly shows how these criminals have been operating their businesses even while in prison without any hindrance. He said that several jail guards who had been identified for having helped these drug lords in prison, have been interdicted.

Thereafter, he said that these jammers were also installed at the Angunakolapelessa and Negombo Prisons as well. Next in line to have these jammers installed is the Mahara and Welikada prisons, the Defence Secretary said.

However, he said that they had encountered minor issues where these jammers were affecting the residential areas around the prison facility, but this issue too had been resolved with the assistance of the mobile phone operators. The Defence Secretary also noted that as a result of these drug kingpins being unable to steer their drug operations from within prison, the Security Forces have managed to nab large quantities of drugs during the recent past.

He said that they had also identified the drug routes and from where these drugs were coming into the country and from November 2019, 32 kg of heroin had been seized together with another 224 kg of heroin seized by the Navy within a span of around one month and ten days. In 2020 another 1,688 kg of heroin had been detected and seized while 1,116 kg of heroin had been seized so far this year. He also said that in addition to the drug busts, the Security Forces had also taken into custody many dangerous weapons into custody during operations.

(Source: Daily News – By Camelia Nathaniel)