Mission that Decided Gampaha Gang Leader Sanjeewa’s Associate’s Fate
By Pahan Wijesekara and Kusum S. Hennadi
An underworld gangster and a drug trafficker, who had terrorised an area, had perished following an exchange of gunfire with a Police Squad tasked with eradicating the underworld from Colombo and the suburbs. The incident took place at dawn on 26 June.
The squad from the Western Province North – Crimes Division had been carrying out an operation in the Gampaha area under the instructions of Western Province SDIG Deshabandu Tennakoon.
Police Sergeant Ajith Senanayaka who had been part of the squad had received information on the cell phone regarding an underworld drug dealer named Rankoth Pedige Sanjeewa Sampath alias Ketawela Pitige Sampath.
The information received by Sergeant Senanayaka had mentioned that Sampath being armed had been heading from Nittambuwa to Colombo on his motorcycle.
As Sampath had been a wanted criminal by the Police, they decided to pursue the motorcyclist to apprehend him, as orders given by the Police for him to stop at the Malwathu Hiripitiya in Puwakpitiya had not been heeded by him.
The suspect had then fired gunshots at the Police officers who were pursuing the speeding vehicle. The suspect had then sustained gunshot injuries when Police officers had opened fire in retaliation.
The injured suspect had been admitted to the Malwathu Hiripitiya Hospital but had succumbed to his injuries at around 5:00 a.m. on 26 June. A sum of Rs 480,000 was later recovered from his possession.
The foreign manufactured revolver used by the deceased to open fire at the Police officers has been taken into custody along with the WP BGE – 7945 Honda motorcycle driven by him.
Police said the victim who had been a close associate of gangster Ganemulle Sanjeewa had also worked as a gunman for criminal gangs.
He had also been charged in Court over the murder of Chamila Kumari in the Kadawatha Police Division on 28 August 2018 and was enlarged on bail at the time of his death.
After the Magisterial inquiry had been conducted by the Gampaha Chief Magistrate, it had been handed over to the Gampaha JMO to perform the post-mortem.
The Police have also decided to seek a report from the Motor Traffic Department to further verify the necessity for the use of the motorcycle driven by the deceased.
Based on further inquiries, it had come to light that he had been engaged in the distribution of illegal drugs throughout the Gampaha District specifically targeting the Nittambuwa area at the behest of gangster Ganemulle Sanjeewa.
Police said the suspect who was aged 25 had been a resident of Meewitiya, Ellakkala area. Meanwhile, for Police officers who are engaged in illegal drug busting activities on 25 June it had turned out to be a busy day.
This was due to a tip off received by Western Province SDIG Deshabandu Tennakoon through a private spy. According to the information received by Tennakoon, it had concerned a house situated at No. 156, Batuwila Road, Kumbuka East, Gonapola.
Through the call received by Tennakoon he had realised its importance and he had relayed the information to the OIC of the Dehiwala Police Station Chief Police Inspector H.L. Dushmantha.
Dushmantha who had been a skilled officer engaged in solving crimes and busting of illegal drug rackets had obtained details pertaining to the call before beginning an investigation into it.
Dushmantha had then gathered details related to a person named Saman Priyantha who has been residing at No. 174, Jawatta North, Kalutara address.
Upon apprehending Priyantha and questioning him, details pertaining to a suspect Sameera Thomas residing at the Batuwita Road address had been obtained.
Then on the evening of 25 June a Police team that had gone to the said address were able to arrest Thomas and another woman who had been engaged in parcelling heroin.
The woman, who had been arrested along with Sameera Thomas, has been identified as Thilini Uthpala Kumari, aged 33.
Investigations conducted by Police revealed that Uthpala Kumari has been Thomas’ mistress. Among other items that had been taken into custody from the residence at Batuwita when the suspects had been parcelling heroin had been a scale used to weigh the heroin, a glass, shopping paper used for wrapping and a kilo and 28 grams of heroin.
The suspect on interrogation had revealed that he had been the main distributor of illegal drugs for drug dealer Mervin Janaka Kumara, who is presently detained at Boossa Prison.
Police had found that Mervin Janaka, being incarcerated had carried out his illegal drug racket through his contacts with Sameera Thomas, with the latter engaging in his business in the Kalutara area.
However, following information that had come to light that illegal drug rackets and acts of contract killings had been spearheaded through the use of cell phones from the Welikada Prison, the Prisons Department had decided to transfer most of the drug peddlers held at the Welikada Prison to the Boossa Prison.
Hence, the transfer of the drug peddlers had taken place 24 hours before the arrest of Thomas. Hence Mervin Janaka would not have been able to give a call to his associate to carry out drug trafficking activities.
It is believed that Sameera Thomas would also have been expecting a call from his boss Mervin Janaka.
However, while Thomas was involved in parcelling the heroin along with his mistress anticipating a call from Janaka, the duo fell into the hands of the Police rather unexpectedly.
Along with the two suspects a three-wheeler has also been taken into custody. Police had further found the cash they had earned through the distribution of illegal drugs, they had also purchased land in Anguruwathota in the Raigama area, with Thomas even proceeding to build a house there.
The suspects had been apprehended by a Police team led by OIC of the Dehiwala Police Station H. L. Dushmantha on the instructions of Western Province SDIG Deshabandu Tennakoon.
While the Police had apprehended the drug peddlers it has also been a travesty to find two Police officers also being nabbed for having been engaged in an illegal cigarette smuggling racket.
Following a tip off received by the officers attached to the Rajagiriya STF, two Police officers engaged in illegal cigarette smuggling, they too had been nabbed along with 8,400 cigarettes.
Based on details received by STF officers, an inspection of vehicles travelling to and from the Junior Officers canteen situated at Fort Chaithya Road had been carried out.
A private van bearing the number 59-2603 had been stopped and on inspection of the vehicle a stock of Manchester cigarettes which had been brought down from overseas and two suspects had been nabbed by the STF.
Of the two suspects, one has been a Police Sergeant attached to the Harbour Police while the other suspect had been a PC attached to the Police Marine Division as a driver.
Following interrogation of the suspects it was found that they had not engaged in the illegal cigarette rackets previously.
But, Police said they were carrying out investigations to find out whether the racket had been carried out over time.
The van used for the illegal racket had also been taken into custody and further inquiries were proceeding.
Meanwhile, a stock of heroin that was to be taken into custody by the PNB and related to the Police officer who is alleged to have sold the stock to drug peddlers was being grilled by the CID.