PNB officers in more criminal activities | Sunday Observer
Drug smuggling ring

PNB officers in more criminal activities

Drug busters taken into custody
Drug busters taken into custody

The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) and its officers have been under severe public scrutiny during the past weeks after it was revealed that a group of its officers had allegedly profited by reselling drugs seized by the agency to drug dealers.

While 18 officers of the PNB believed to have been involved in the racket have now been arrested, more information about their ill-gotten gains was revealed in court and through Police investigations this week. 

When the case was taken up before the Colombo Chief Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne on Wednesday (8) Deputy Solicitor General Dileepa Peiris revealed in court that investigators now believe that the suspects were in contact with international drug traffickers.

According to Peiris, there is evidence to believe that the group had made contact with these traffickers in international waters and obtained drugs in bulk in to be sold.

He also told court that the group had then allegedly kept the drugs at their residences and transported them in luxury vehicles that were in Police custody. 

The Deputy Solicitor General also made a number of revelations in court which suggested that the PNB officers had been involved in more criminal activity than was revealed previously. While the Police have also now discovered an illegal firearm belonging to one suspect, questions have been raised if the group was also involved in the illegal arms trade. In courts, Peiris noted that investigators have raised concerns if the suspects provided illegal firearms to local criminals and that a separate investigation is now being conducted in this regard. 

Forged currency notes

Meanwhile, it was also revealed that 31 forged Rs. 5,000 currency notes were found in the possession of two suspects. Therefore, the Deputy Solicitor General told court there are also questions if the suspected PNB officers had been printing forged currency notes. 

According to Peiris while the officers had allegedly resold drugs in bulk to drug dealers and had carried out sham drug raids to cover their tracks, the group had even received awards and letters of commendation from the Inspector General of Police for their supposed service to combat the illegal drug trade in Sri Lanka. These awards included monetary rewards from the Police Fund. 

Peiris told court how the suspects had led luxurious lives using ill-gotten gains from criminal activities. One suspect for example had purchased two blocks of land close to the Kottawa Expressway to the value Rs. 17 million. Nearly 43 bank accounts with funds close to Rs. 4.6 million belonging to the suspects have now been frozen. 

The Police also recovered seven vehicles belonging to two PNB officers arrested. Among the vehicles found were four lorries, two vans and one luxury vehicle. The vehicles were found on a tip received by the Western Province Senior DIG Office. According to the Police Media Unit, the vehicles belong to a Sub Inspector and a Police Constable who is currently in custody. 

The duo had hired these vehicles to companies, the Police said. All the vehicles were being used by a factory in Pallewela, Banduragoda when they were taken into custody. The two vans had been registered under the name of a relative of the constable employed at the factory.

In court Peiris blamed the senior officers in charge of the PNB for the situation. He said lack of supervision by the DIG in-charge of the PNB and its Director had paved the way for the suspects to engage in trafficking drugs.

Following these revelations, the Colombo Chief Magistrate ordered the Government Analyst to investigate and submit a report to court to ascertain if the drugs were contaminated with another substance. Detectives were also ordered by the court to present facts separately on the charges filed against the 12 suspects.

Adulteration

The production room of the PNB was inspected on Thursday by the Government Analyst’s Department after it was revealed last week that the suspects arrested had mixed drugs with various other powders to make up for the shortfall of drugs extracted from those confiscated to be resold.

This was on an order given by Colombo Chief Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne on Wednesday after Deputy Solicitor General Dileepa Peiris said on Thursday that drugs were being kept in the production room without being produced in court.

Peiris had raised concerns as to why the suspects had been keeping the drugs without producing it before the court. In response, the CID informed court that OIC of the PNB in a report had confirmed that 700 kilograms of heroin were being kept in the production room. The room was sealed on June 28. The officer in charge of the Production room has also been arrested by the CID. 

Following the revelation, the Magistrate ordered the room to be checked to ascertain if the correct drug stocks were within the room as mentioned if anything has been mixed along with them, if the seals have been broken and if drugs had been repacked.

She also ordered the findings to be reported back to court. The production room on the third floor of the CID building was accordingly checked by the officers of the Government Analysts Department and the CID on Thursday. 

The remaining drugs at the PNB production room have now been handed over to the Government Analyst’s Department for further investigation. 

While the actions of the rogue officers have dealt a blow to the reputation of the PNB according to DIG Ajith Rohana the investigations regarding the Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) officers arrested on drug trafficking charges have now been expedited.

He also said that the police intend to request the Attorney General to file indictments as soon as possible and seek the death sentence against them.

Addressing a media briefing at the Police Headquarters on Friday (10) the DIG said they will present indictments through the Attorney General and conclude this process as soon as possible and seek a High Court Trial-at-Bar for the case. 

“The offences committed by these officers are punishable by the death sentence. Therefore, we will ensure they are given the highest penalty for their crimes.” he said. 

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Death penalty for PNB officers?

While the actions of the rogue officers have dealt a blow of death to the reputation of the PNB according to DIG Ajith Rohana the investigations regarding the Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) officers arrested on drug trafficking charges have now been expedited.

He also said that the police hope to request the Attorney General to file indictments as soon as possible and seek the death sentence against them.

Addressing a media briefing at the Police Headquarters on Friday (10) the DIG said they will present indictments through the Attorney General and conclude this process as soon as possible and seek a High Court Trial-at-Bar in relation to the case. 

“The offences committed by these officers are punishable by the death sentence. Therefore, we will ensure they are given the highest penalty for their crimes.” he said. 


Drug stocks at the PNB production room taken for investigations by the Government Analyst Department

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