Authorities alert on emerging cocaine network | Sunday Observer

Authorities alert on emerging cocaine network

Government agencies engaged in combatting drug trafficking are now on high alert about the emerging network in the Indian Ocean region to transport cocaine from the South American region to Europe. The authorities investigating into the cocaine consignment detected in sugar containers from Brazil believe that the recent detection of cocaine consignments in Sri Lanka are also a part of this emerging network of trafficking cocaine.

Sri Lankan authorities within the past few months detected over 400 kilograms of cocaine concealed inside sugar containers which were lying at warehouses to be released to importers. The Police Narcotics Bureau last week detected 31 kilogram of the cocaine inside another sugar container at a warehouse in Pethiyagoda, Kelaniya.

Director, Police Narcotic Bureau, SSP Kamal Silva said that they are in touch with the UNODC in combating this emerging network.

“We are concerned that the cocaine traffickers from South America are now using the heroin networks on the Southern Route in the Indian Ocean as a new cocaine trafficking route to Europe,” Shanaka Jayasekara, Program Officer of the Global Maritime Crime Program (GMCP) of the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC), when contacted by the Sunday Observer for comments, said.

The seizure of large volumes of cocaine in Indian Ocean states such as Sri Lanka and Kenya is a concerning trend. He said since June 2016 over 400 kg of cocaine had been seized in Sri Lanka while in Kenya 99 kg of cocaine was detected in July 2016.

“The modus operandi of the cocaine traffickers in Sri Lanka and Kenya seems to be similar and this is extremely concerning,” he added.

According to UNODC reports, there are links between the July 2016 seizures of cocaine in both Kenya and Sri Lanka. These cocaine consignments had been concealed with sugar in containers that departed Port of Santos in Brazil. It is believed the shipping containers for Sri Lanka and Kenya were loaded on the same vessel in Brazil and then transshipped in Europe to South Asia and East Africa.

Shanaka Jaysekara said the Indian Ocean region has been a primary trafficking route for Afghan heroin from the Makran Coast to East Africa and South Asia which is commonly known as the Southern Route.

There has been an increase of heroin trafficking on the Southern Route over the last three years. Sri Lanka detected 101kg of heroin in March 2016, Seychelles detected 98 kg of heroin in April 2016 and the Combined Maritime Forces have detected over 9300 kg of heroin on the Indian Ocean over the past three years.