Drugs Smuggling Son Puts Lanka PM in Fix
By P K Balachandran | Published: 06th January 2014 08:28 AM |
The alleged involvement of Sri Lankan Prime Minister D M Jayaratne’s son and his coordinating secretary in the smuggling of 250 kg of heroin from Pakistan has thrown the spotlight on drug smuggling, drug use and the nexus between high-level politicians and the drug mafia in the island nation.
Out of the 250 kg seized, 100 kg were to be for local use and the rest for re-export to the UK, Canada and
The involvement of PM’s son came to light when the police found that the consignment, hidden in a container load of grease, was to be cleared with a recommendation letter from the PM’s coordinating secretary. Further investigation showed that the PM’s son and his local election financier were involved too.
The Buddhist party, Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), which is angry with the PM for suggesting special courts to try criminal cases against Buddhist monks, promptly called for Jayaratne’s scalp. Opposition MP Mangala Samaraweera charged that many MPs were “living on drug money.”
According to the police, 53,000 persons had been arrested for drug offences in 2013. Only recently, an officer in-charge of a police station and his wife, an ex-constable, were caught dealing in drugs. In 2011, 78 per cent of those in jail were in for drug use.
Much of the heroin comes from Pakistan and India. According to the DG Coast Guard, Rear Admiral R C Wijegunaratne, Lanka’s proximity to the “Golden Triangle” and “Golden Crescent” has made it a “major transit point to Europe and other countries in the West on an organised scale.” The contraband comes in containers and fishing craft or through couriers posing as tourists.
According to the Sri Lanka Anti-Narcotics Association (SLANA), heroin comes from Pakistan via South India. SLANA statistics show that 48 per cent of the foreigners arrested for drug smuggling are Pakistani and 26 per cent Indian.
However, National Dangerous Drugs Control Board (NDDCB) Director General P Gamage told Express that the use of drugs in Lanka itself is not high.
“The situation is under control. But what is worrying is the use of Lanka as a transit point. We do not know how much is getting away undetected,” he said.