An appeal to launch an Asset Probe into Police Narcotics Personnel

An appeal to launch an Asset Probe into Police Narcotics Personnel

9 July 2020 08:38 pm

All police personnel attached to the Police Narcotics Bureau shall be subject to a comprehensive Asset Investigation, said a recently retired senior investigator of Sri Lanka. 

According to retired DIG Ravi Seneviratne, the maximum service of a Narcotics officer should be limited to a period of one year. 

The former CID head, who happened to be a former officer in charge of the Narcotics Bureau as well, made this observation in response to the recent arrest of Police Narcotics officers who were allegedly involved in drug smuggling chain. 

As of the present, 18 police personnel attached to the Narcotics unit have been arrested with alleged ties to the most conversed drug chain during the recent occasion, while ongoing investigations are in progress, according to Police. 

Many waters on and off media have already been shaken by this most staggering revelation in which government officials who are entrusted with enforcing law have breached the very fabric of it. 

A special probe is a must

This crisis had not occurred by accident nor overnight, retired DIG Seneviratne, a devoted public servant and a reputed gentleman in the judicial field, opined, revealing that some persons were either aiding or involving in drug trafficking in the face of suppressing substance has long been going on. 

Therefore, every official attached to the Bureau from top to bottom shall be accounted for a special investigation, he pointed out. 

In view of collecting information on the origins and the ends of the drug smuggling chain, Seneviratne added that an independent probe by appointing a person or a committee trustworthy to the government should be initiated referring early convicts such as Wele Suda and Makandure Madush for questioning. A comprehensive investigation should also be conducted on the 2017 assault on the Narcotics group including inspector Neomal Rangajeewa, he added. 

The brutal assault targeting the Narcotics group in 2017 killed a police officer, injuring two other officers including Rangajeewa. 

“With whom did one of the main suspects of the attack flee to India?” the senior DIG argued.

A disclosure before the Court 

Meanwhile, DIG Nalaka De Silva, a former director of the Narcotics Bureau, whose services are suspended, made an exclusive disclosure on the chain before the High Court on Wednesday (08). 

An investigation on which information on the raids to be carried out by the Police Narcotics Bureau had been leaked by some officials to Gampola Vidhanalage Samantha Kumara alias Wele Suda, a leading drug dealer, was conducted, Silva disclosed before Court. 

He made this disclosure in response to cross referencing at the trial hearing the Welikada murder before the three-member bench comprising Justices Gihan Kulatunga, Pradeep Hettiarachchi and Manjula Thilakaratne. 

The defendants to the case including Police inspector Neomal Rangajeewa had arrested a Police constable attached to the Narcotics Bureau, namely Aruna Perera, based on the alleged ties to drug smuggling, the witness acknowledged. 

Investigations had uncovered voice recordings implying phone conversations between constable Aruna Perera and drug lord Wele Suda, suspended DIG Nalaka De Silva further revealed before Court.

The background story to drug smuggling 

According to Police, drug smuggling was first taken into centre of attention in 1979, particularly involving heroin. 

Revealing that heroin had not existed in Sri Lanka earlier, DIG Ajith Rohana calling in a press briefing on July 01 had said that the first arrest on keeping heroin in possession was made in Hikkaduwa area in 1981.

The authorities of Sri Lanka, which had focused on the drug menace that was malignant around the globe, had set up the Police Narcotics Bureau three decades ago with appointing a group of police officials specially trained for the mission. 

The objective of establishing the Narcotics Bureau was to raid drug trafficking in Sri Lanka as well as to seize the persons who smuggle drugs into Sri Lanka and their 'masterminds', DIG Rohana revealed. 

The number of persons arrested

According to Rohana, the following figures indicate the number of persons arrested for having alleged ties to the drug smuggling chain:

  • 4338 kg of heroin were taken into custody,
  • 156,257 suspects were prosecuted,
  • 27,588 kg of ganja were seized,
  • 252,259 suspects were prosecuted,
  • 1828 kg of cocaine were taken into custody,
  • 153 suspects were enforced law. 

Since 2013, 582 suspects have been prosecuted by the Bureau, and these cases are still being heard before the High Court. 61 have been convicted guilty and sentenced to death, he added, thereby suggesting that the Narcotics Bureau's commitment to eradicate the drug menace is outstanding. 

The 'biggest challenge in history' yet 

Meanwhile, DIG Priyantha Jayakody in charge of Crimes and Organised Crimes Division opined that this is the biggest challenge in history yet the Narcotics Bureau has been battling with. 

In the eye of the drug dealers, the current fate of the Bureau is a victory for them, Jayakody said. 

The largest stacks of drugs were taken into custody in 2019 - 2020, therefore, these dealers' intend to weaken the mission to suppress smuggling by hosting several corrupt Bureau officials, they further stressed.