Islandwide Special Ops on President’s Orders to Fight Underworld
Uninterrupted Police investigations would be conducted on advice from Defence Secretary Kamal Gunaratna and Acting IGP Chandana D. Wickremaratna to bust all forms of crimes, illegal drug peddling and similar illegal activities throughout the country following an order issued to this effect to the law enforcement authorities by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, SDIG of the Western Province Deshabandu Tennakoon said.
He stated that these operations to combat these illegal activities would be launched nationwide with the coordination of OICs and HQIs, the Special Units set up to tackle all forms of crime as well as the STF.
Tennakoon said that intelligence reports received by Police Stations countrywide will be perused by the three categories before launching operations to bust such activities effectively.
He made these revelations during a Media briefing convened at Police Headquarters last Friday (3). He was flanked by STF Commandant DIG Varuna Jayasundara and Police Media Spokesman SSP Jaliya Senaratna.
Speaking further SDIG of the Western Province said; “Illegal activities of organised crime gangs and illegal drug traffickers had taken place over time. After these illegal activities began to rise in an unprecedented manner in the recent past, the President issued an order to law enforcement officers to create an environment for people to live free of such activities. Later the Defence Secretary also intervened and gave us instructions to formulate a programme to rid society of this menace.
The acting IGP also gave us instructions to draw up a prompt plan to get rid of these undesirable elements from society. As a result daily operations conducted by the SIS and the Western Province Intelligence Unit have been further streamlined as per advice from the Acting IGP. Henceforth a coordinated programme will be launched countrywide by OICs and HQIs, the Special Units set up to combat crime as well as the STF to rid society of those engaged in crime, illegal drug smuggling and other crimes. Thanks to this new exercise the Police in the past few weeks had been able to take into custody many criminals, drug dealers as well as large stocks of illegal drugs from various areas. Through these daily operations we intend to apprehend big-time drug dealers. But, there is a school of thought that Police were only going after small-time drug peddlers and were afraid to round up big-time peddlers.
In the future, you will see many big-time peddlers also falling into the Police net. Already details had emerged about a suspect who had been nabbed by the Mirihana Special Inspection Unit who had maintained a bank account where money had been found to the tune of Rs 490 million. We intend to take legal action against this suspect based on provisions contained in Sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act with CID officers engaged in this task.
Further investigations are also being conducted into another suspect nabbed from Minuwangoda who had maintained Rs 120 million in his bank account.
Meanwhile, another suspect had been nabbed from Dehiwala on 25 June having 1.28 kg of narcotic drugs in his possession and also cash amounting to Rs 235,000. Probes conducted had revealed that this suspect was in cahoot with another gangster known as Mervin Jana and had deposited Rs 140 million between 15 July 2019 and 20 June 2020 to an account operating under the name of a 65-year-old man in Jana’s house. Further sums of Rs 1.9 million had been transferred from that account to another account on the same day we arrested him. Police took measures to suspend all these bank accounts.
The probes conducted so far have revealed that from the monies deposited into these bank accounts luxury houses, vehicles and properties have been purchased by these suspects from various areas in the country.
Illegal bank accounts
Another individual was arrested from the Werahera area who is a retired bank staffer. He operates an institute that functions like a commercial bank where he acts like the custodian of the monies of these drug lords and dealers and then transfer the funds to relevant accounts of the drug peddlers. It has also come to light that monies had been transferred by these suspects to at least 10 bank accounts. Further investigations are being continued regarding the bank accounts operated by each of these suspects. The monies accrued by these criminals through peddling of illegal drugs had been used by them to wallow in riches and another lucrative business for them had been contract killings.
We also intend to set up a Special Unit to probe how these organised gangs operate and how they use their monies to accomplish their sinister aims. As per provisions contained in Sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, we intend to confiscate all monies accrued by these suspects along with the properties that they had acquired. These suspects had also conducted these lucrative trades with the support of inmates of Prisons and online. We have received much information regarding this as well.
These people had used subtle methods to send illegal drugs to prisons. Also advice has been given to OICs and HQIs at regional level to nab criminals who intimidate the public with the use of knives, swords etc. In the past week alone some 82 suspects have been apprehended in this regard. Henceforth we will not allow any person to intimidate or issue threats to the people regarding land and family issues.
Furthermore details have also been collected regarding groups that tend to demand ransom money from the public and they too will be dealt with according to the law. Another programme that will be launched is to bring down gangsters who are based overseas who tend to operate criminal activities through their local associates here. These suspects will also be rounded up shortly and they too will be prosecuted after their arrests. The aim of the President is to usher in a society that is devoid of these undesirable elements and towards this end the Defence Secretary and the Acting IGP are also supporting these measures. The results of this exercise will be there for the people to see in the coming months.
Commandant of the STF DIG Varuna Jayasundara explained how the STF, based on instructions received from the President, Defence Secretary and the Acting IGP had managed to arrest scores of suspects engaged in illegal acts of drug peddling and contract killings, in the past three weeks.
Some 20 Organized Criminal Gangs have been busted. Several big-time drug peddlers such as Manna Ramesh, Gaiya and Dematagoda Chaminda, have been among the suspects.
Largest weapons haul
During these operations against the underworld, we were able to get hold of the largest weapons haul of the criminal gang recently. This armoury belonged to ‘Kosgoda Tharaka’ and consisted of 12 T-56 weapons and one T-81 weapon.
We intend to further streamline these operations in this regard in the coming weeks and there will be no room left for these suspects to roam the streets henceforth under our watch. I request the public to furnish any information regarding such criminal gangs or the acts of peddling illegal drugs to telephone number 011-2500471.
Police Media Spokesman SSP Jaliya Senaratna said already the CID has begun a special probe into certain officers from the PNB being allegedly involved with big-time illegal drug traffickers. Some 15 such officers have been taken into custody in this connection. There are also three civilians involved as well.
“During the first stage of the investigation we found that a few officers have worked with drug dealers to transport illegal drugs. They have helped transport 130 kg of heroin. Seventy kilograms of this has been taken into custody in Minuwangoda recently. Further investigations into the matter are still being conducted.
Furthermore, the Police have seized 243kg of heroin transported through sea routes. Another, 43kgs of that stock has been sold while 200kg has been kept in Police custody. There is information that several officers of the Police Narcotic Bureau (PNB) were involved in the racket. It was also revealed that five pistols have been transported with the drugs. One pistol has been found by the CID as of now.
The police have requested a seven-day detention order on 11 Police officers who have been arrested after they have been produced before courts. The individual who transported these drugs while having firearms in his possession has also been detained and interrogated under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.
Three main rules have also been established to investigate into those who have supported the PNB officers involved in drug trafficking. Accoridingly the investigation will include looking into the possibility of the involvement of those who was formerly involved in the murder of a PNB officer and the assault of another officer and will be carried out in accordance to the provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism (Terrorism Provisions) Act.
The seized drugs will be dealt with under the provisions of the Poisons, Opium, and dangerous drugs Ordinance.
The investigations into the change in composition and sale of 500 Kg and 8 g of Ice will be carried out in accordance to the provisions of the Intellectual Property Act.
The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) has handed over a sum of Rs 32.393 million that has been obtained by the circulation and sale of these drugs to the Police.
The Police has also seized and detained two vans, a car and a cab that has been used for the illegal activities. A T56 Firearm and ammunition and pistol have also been seized. Four teams have been established upon the instruction of CID director and the supervision of the CID Deputy Inspector General for further investigations.
The Police Media spokesperson, responding to a query of a journalist as to the plan of a suspect to travel abroad, stated that all those involved in the racket have been identified and travel restrictions have been imposed on them.
He added that except for one suspect, all PNB officer involved in the racket has been recognized and transfers have been made to the PNB Director and the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) upon the approval of the National Police Commission and the Independent Election Commission and has been carried out according a set procedure. He added that the investigation process could be hindered if they remained in the said positions.
He added that investigations into if these officers have carried out their responsibilities accordingly together with disciplinary inquiries will also be initiated and necessary actions will also be taken he added.
Meanwhile, 8kg out of 500kg of ICE seized by the PNB, had been sold back after changing its combination. Four Police officers and one civilian were arrested in connection with this. They are detained at the moment under the provisions of Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and Poisons, Opium and Dangerous Drugs Ordinance for further questioning.
Apart from them, 12 persons who have connections with these drug rackets were arrested. Eleven of them were Police officers while the other one allegedly transports drugs on sea routes.”
Meanwhile, he said careful measures have been taken to protect the identity of the source of information and therefore, there is no no need to feel intimidated when providing information to Security Forces or Police on crimes and racketeering taking place anywhere in the country.
“You should not be afraid to provide information. We stand to protect you. 95% of our successful raids are based on information you provide. There have been a few isolated incidents. We have also resolved the prejudice of informants, although they were exposed. Any information could be given directly to the STF Commandant by contacting 0718592640 telephone number or SDIG Western Province on 0718591017. We have also come up with a plan to reward cash prizes to the public for successful information provided,” he said
They also emphasised that maximum action will be taken against corrupt officials to restore lost faith in the Sri Lanka Police.