Police hope to seize hundreds of millions of rupees from drug lords

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Extensive investigations have been launched to identify and seize the assets of known drug lords who are known to have made hundreds of millions of rupees through this illegal trade, Police say.

The Western Province’s Senior Deputy Inspector General Deshabandu Tennakoon said that under the Money Laundering Act, the Police would charge the underworld narcotic smugglers and this would enable the authorities to seize their assets.

He said intelligence collected by interrogating drug users and drug distributors had helped police to establish that there were about 25 underworld gangs operating in Colombo, and about 20 of these were currently active.

“Underworld gangs and drugs are two sides of the same coin, as drug distribution is the main income of such groups,” he said.

SDIG Tennakoon said they had identified and traced networks of drug distributors and found that some networks continued to be run by imprisoned convicts.

During recent raids, Police had arrested 388 suspects linked to drug trafficking, seized about 20 vehicles, various properties and millions of rupees in cash, he said.

Police had also obtained Interpol red notices to bring down key underworld figures who were directing drug trafficking from abroad.

While implementing such measures, SDIG Tennakoon said efforts were also being made to rehabilitate drug addicts and stop the distribution of narcotic tablets which act as a pathway to lure young people to hard drugs.

This week, the Police busted a drug distribution network operating from Padukka, Kolonnawa and Matara.

“We first identified a 30-year-old drug addict in Padukka. He had only a few grams of heroin in his possession. We then learned that he received the drugs from another addict who was staying at a tea shop close to the place where the first addict was found,” Padukka Police Inspector Ajith Nishanka said.

The Police then nabbed the second addict and detained him. Under interrogation, the suspect revealed details of a dealer in Kolonnawa.

The Police then compelled the drug addict to arrange a meeting with the Kolonnawa drug dealer to carry out the drug transaction. The Police then set their officers near the designated spot and nabbed the dealer when he arrived at the spot. He was found to have 10 grams of heroin.

“The dealer we arrested revealed details of another dealer who is also stationed at Kolonnawa. He sells far larger quantities of drugs. Then according to the information gathered we raided the house of the second dealer, however neither the 49-year-old suspected second drug dealer nor the drugs were found,” Inspector Nishanka said.

While the suspect had evaded arrest, Inspector Nishanka said the Police learned of a shop belonging to the suspected second drug distributor. It was located on the second floor of a building in Kolonnawa.

“We took a chance, raided the shop and found 1kg of heroin and the suspected drug dealer. He had drugs valued at Rs 12 million with him.”

Both alleged drug dealers were produced before the Hulftsdorp Magistrate, where police were granted powers to hold and interrogate the 49-year-old second suspect under detention orders, while the first suspect was remanded.

Both suspected drug addicts were produced before the Avissawella Magistrate, who fined and released them.

The Padukka Police Inspector said they also learned that the head of the drug trafficking network resided in Matara. Though an operation was launched to nab him, the main suspect had evaded arrest. But the Police hoped to nab him soon.

(Source: The Sunday Times – By Kasun Warakapitiya)