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Sunday, 3 March 2002  
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Intensive campaign to wipe out drug menace

by JAYAMPATHY JAYASINGHE

Interior Minister John Amaratunga said that his ministry would launch an intensive campaign to eradicate the drug menace which has plagued the country over the past two decades.

The minister said that despite several detections and preventive action by the authorities, heroin is freely available in the country. Heroin is smuggled into the country on a big scale by boat through containers. Small scale smuggling is done by couriers who arrive at the Banadaranike International Airport (BIA). He said he would not be surprised if heroin was also smuggled into the country through diplomatic sources concealed in their bag and baggage.

The police have detected over 2 kilograms of heroin and destroyed a 7 1\2 acres of ganja plantation during the last 50 days. Several raids were also conducted to nab narcotic dealers in a bid to prevent trafficking and sale of drugs in the country, Minister Amaratunga said.

The biggest haul of heroin weighing 35 kilos was detected in year 2001 when the police arrested a businessman from Chillaw with eight others in the mid sea. The heroin with a street value of Rs. 7.5 million was detected by the Terrorist Investigation Unit and the stuff was believed to be smuggled from India by a businessman with his accomplices.

A spokesman for the Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) said that 102 kilograms and 216 grams of heroin were detected by the authorities in the year 2001 as against 984 kilograms and 150 grams in the year 2000.

The following state agencies were responsible for detecting the bulk of heroin in the year 2001.

Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) 42 kilograms and 504 grams, Terrorist Investigation Unit (TID) 40 kilograms and 186 grames, Customs 17 kilograms and 253 grams, Excise Department 123 grams and all police stations in the country 2 kilos and 150 grams.

The Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB), Gerard Ignatius said that the PNB had detected over half a kilogram of heroin during the month of January 2002 alone from raids conducted at Kimbula-ella Modera and elsewhere. Recently, an Indian passenger who arrived at the BIA was nabbed with 168 grams of heroin in his possession.

The former Police Narcotics Bureau's Chief, DIG, C. L. Ratnayake, told the "Sunday Observer" that Sri Lanka had become a major transit point for heroin to Europe and other Western countries due to her close proximity to the "Golden Triangle and the Golden Crescent where poppy growing areas were rampant.

He said that a large quantity of heroin entered Sri Lanka by sea routes where smugglers with mechanized fishing craft were deployed to pass them through the South Indian ports to Sri Lanka. Heroin was also smuggled through towns in the coastal belt viz Mannar, Dehiwela, Ambalangoda by organised crime syndicates.

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