PNB, Police join hands in battle against drugs | Sunday Observer

PNB, Police join hands in battle against drugs

The Sri Lanka Police and the Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) have been fighting a tough battle against the smuggling of drugs into the country, making great efforts to eliminate the menace from Sri Lanka through constant raids and detections. This week marked two significant incidents in their war against drugs. The assassination attempt on the life of a well known PNB officer not only shocked the public but also its connection to the largest haul of drugs seized in recent times thereafter revealed the extent of the issue.

Drugs haul

On May 11, the Police detected what is now being called the largest haul of drugs seized in recent times. Acting on a tip off received over three months ago through a private informant, a team of officers led by DIG Champika Siriwardene was able to nab one person along with a haul of drugs weighing a staggering 200 Kilograms during a special operation conducted along the shore in Chilaw. According to the Police, on inspection the 198 bags of drugs had contained an expensive form of Heroin named ´White Sugar´.

According to the Police the suspect who had been attempting to transport the drugs in a Land Rover Defender owned by him has now been identified as a 40 year old vehicle parts businessman in the Kalubowila area who had been acting as a middleman in the smuggling ring for a number of years.

It was revealed that the drugs had been brought to an island off Puttalam and was being transported to Colombo when Police stepped in. With the main suspect still at large and believed to be residing in Dubai, the Police are now on the trail of several other main suspects involved in the racket.

Attempted assassination

Meanwhile in an interesting twist to the plot according to the Police information has now been received linking the seized drug haul to the recent attempted assassination of several PNB officers including IP Neomal Rangajeewa, an officer who is said to be feared by drug smugglers. Rangajeewa is known as an officer who has led his team in a large number of drug detections. It is said certain drug kingpins had even fled abroad in order to avoid arrest by IP Rangajeewa.

On May 9, the day prior to the Vesak Poya day, the car in which a team of PNB officers led by IP Rangajeewa was travelling in was sprayed with bullets by two armed assailants on a motorcycle killing the driver PC Chaminda Abeywickrama while critically injuring IP Rangajeewa, another Police officer along with three other innocent bystanders including two children.

According to the Police the incident which occurred around 8.30 pm in Piliyandala had taken place when the team had been travelling for a drugs raid on a tip off. Sources say the officers had in an attempt to seize a haul of drugs posed as buyers and travelled to the area for the purpose. While in touch with a member of infamous drug kingpin Madush´s gang the team was avoided by drug dealers on two separate occasions when finally they were led to Piliyandala in order to conclude the deal. As one officer had alighted from the vehicle the assailants had shot at the team using a T56 weapon while later fleeing and abandoning the motorcycle in the Maharagama area. Investigations have revealed that the motorcycle used had in fact been purchased on the very day from the Delgoda area.

Sources now say it is possible that IP Rangajeewa was led to the scene on false pretences in order to assassinate him. The Police now believe the hit was ordered by the main suspect involved in the smuggling of the large haul of heroin seized by the Police this week.

While questions remain as to how the drug smugglers received information on the officers with doubts being cast on officers within the PNB itself, investigations have now commenced under the guidance of IGP Pujith Jayasundara by DIG Western Province in charge of Crimes and Traffic Administration Nandana Munasinghe.

While the officers now continue to recover in the National Hospital, IGP Pujith Jayasundara has also stressed that attacks on PNB or other police officers will not deter the force´s war against drugs. ¨We will work more actively towards eliminating the drug menace from the country,¨ Jayasundara said adding that the Police will destroy all drug smuggling rings operating in Sri Lanka.