STF raids underworld firearms storage in Pitipana
By Chamara Amarasuriya
The Organised Crimes Division of the Special Task Force yesterday (29), recovered 11 T-56 rifles from a secret firearms storage maintained by an underworld gang in Pitipana, Homagama.
The storage, reportedly owned by the noted underworld gangster Kosgoda Tharaka, also contained a T-81 firearm. STF had arrested two suspects during the raid.
STF sources said investigations conducted so far had revealed that on the advice received from Kosgoda Tharaka and one of his associates, Gagana, both of whom are incarcerated, firearms had been sent to another gangster named Potta Kapila.
Following the arrest and interrogation of Potta Kapila in the Ingammaruwa area in Meegoda, the firearms which had been hidden in a shop known as Sagara Tailors, had been located.
STF sources said initial probes had revealed the storage had operated as a major firearms supplier for the underworld of the South and that another seven T-56 rifles that had been brought to the storage had been concealed. However, sources said inquiries had shown that the seven T-56 rifles had been misplaced by the gangsters. They suspect that days before the STF raid, the gangsters may have taken the seven T-56 rifles to hide them elsewhere.
The STF said the suspect Potta Kapila had also been the main suspect in the robbery that had taken place at the Matara Nileka Jewellers on 22 June, two years ago. They said suspect Kapila, who had been remanded for 18 months over the said case, had been enlarged on bail subsequently.
Also, during the robbery, which had been led by Kosgoda Tharaka, a Police Constable attached to the Matara Police had succumbed to his injuries sustained in an exchange of fire between the robbers and the Police. Potta Kapila who is a close associate of Tharaka had been arrested on charges of supplying the vehicles for the robbery of Nileka Jewellers in Matara.
Suspect Kapila who is currently in custody is a permanent resident of Pitipana, Homagama, while he had been temporarily residing in the Ingammaruwa area in Meegoda.
Police said the other suspect who had been nabbed is the owner of Sagara Tailors in Matara. They said that so far the bullets, that are used for the firearms recovered from the storage, has still not been located by them.
Police also suspect the firearms hidden in the storage would have been used to fire at a Black Maria that is used to transport prison inmates from prisons to Courts and vice versa and akin to the murder of noted underworld gangster Ranale Samayan in the Ethanamadala area in Kalutara.
Investigations in this regard are conducted under the direct supervision of Commandant of the STF, DIG Varuna Jayasundara.