Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
Back in 2019, Sri Lankan newspaper the Ceylon Today published a report with startling new information about a huge narcotics seizure. In this report, there were indications the war on drugs has intensified in Sri Lanka over 2018, ending the year with this massive narcotics seizure. On December 31, 2018, the Sri Lankan Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) conducted a raid on a large, upscale house in Dehiwala, south of Colombo, where the house was being occupied by two men from Bangladesh, ages 35 and 38. During the raid, police seized over 272kg of heroin and 5kg of cocaine, with a combined street value of US$20 million. A police spokesman states this narcotics seizure from Islamic gangs is the largest haul of heroin ever recorded in Sri Lanka. In December 2018, over 500kg of heroin was seized in Sri Lanka, while police say 736kg of heroin was seized over the year of 2018.
According to the report, A 23-year-old Bangladeshi woman was arrested along with 32 kg of heroin, with a street value of Rs. 384 million, at a safe house in Ratmalana on December 16, 2018 evening, a senior Policeman said. The suspect woman was initially picked up from a location in neighboring Dehiwala by undercover sleuths from the Police Narcotic Bureau (PNB) who had operated on a tip-off.
At the time of her arrest in Dehiwala, the suspect was in a possession of one kilogram of heroin and subsequently led sleuths to the larger haul of the narcotic at Ratmalana, he added. Investigators are certain that the woman was not a ‘lone wolf’ operator and are searching for other contacts both in the country and elsewhere.
According to sleuths close to the investigation, the suspect is believed to have been involved in the narcotics trade for a considerable period of time. At the time of her arrest, the suspect was living in a rented house.
On December 31, 2018, Sri Lanka’s largest English newspaper, The Island in a report said, the arrested drug dealer had brought the drugs into the country from Afghanistan via sea and air and then had used luxury vehicles to transport heroin to the house in Dehiwala. The two men had also procured valuable properties in Colombo using the money made from the drug racket, according to police.
South Colombo, the drug distribution hub
The region of Dehiwala, south Colombo, has a large population of Muslims; considerable Islamic gang activity is concentrated there for the illegal drug trade. Most of the drugs seized by Sri Lankan authorities in December 2018 have identified the Dehiwala area as being the central distribution hub for the country’s drug trade. The two Bangladeshi men arrested for the latest historic drug seizure were living a lavish lifestyle in a large luxurious home, and the drugs were being transported using their expensive, high-end vehicles. Dehiwala is known for its high-income neighborhoods where these Islamic gang members led affluent lifestyles, owning many valuable properties in the area and laundering money into area businesses owned by Muslims.
Beneath the polished exterior of these Bangladeshi drug traffickers, there is a sinister connection to merciless Islamic gangs and terror. Locals say these Islamic gangs are waging “chemical warfare” on non-Muslim families by creating a hard drug epidemic to destroy their communities, especially since the Islamic gang members typically do not use the drugs they are distributing into the local Sinhalese communities. The heroin seized in Sri Lanka comes from Afghanistan, by air and sea. The proceeds are used to finance terror networks across the world, so these recent historic drug seizures have likely had a direct impact on the global war on terror, possibly saving the lives of many innocent people.
Over the last few years, the drug problem in Sri Lanka has become so severe that in mid-2018, the government announced an end to the almost 50-year moratorium on the death penalty for convicted drug dealers. Usually, a convicted drug dealer has his or her death sentence, by hanging, commuted to life in prison, but this may no longer be the situation, as President Sirisena stated that he “was ready to sign the death warrants.” Despite criticism from human rights lobbyists in Sri Lanka, who tried unsuccessfully to eliminate the death penalty in 2018, the success of Filipino President Duterte’s war on drugs is being cited as a good starting point, because Sri Lanka has become an important destination for international drug smuggling. People believe these Islamic gangs have become so powerful in Sri Lanka that they are creating an underground army to become a serious threat to the government.
These fears reached critical levels in Sri Lanka when a conspiracy to assassinate President Sirisena, along with two top political leaders, was revealed in late October 2018. An investigation discovered the assassination plot was connected to a network of Islamic gangs in the criminal underworld, which resulted in some political upheaval within the coalition government. The war on drugs in Sri Lanka has become an issue of national security, so Duterte-style countermeasures are seen as necessary for the government to maintain control against the growing influence of the criminal underworld led by dangerous Islamic gangs that have eliminated all other rivals in the illegal drug trade. After the complete eradication of the LTTE terror network in 2009, merciless Islamic gangs have emerged as the leaders of the criminal underworld in Sri Lanka.
There is an important connection to Bangladesh with these massive drug seizures. International networks of Islamic gangs from Bangladesh are notorious for human trafficking, terrorism, money laundering, weapons, fraud and drugs. These gangs are based inside Bangladesh, a country that has a major problem with organized crime, corruption, and Islamic jihad activity. In 2018, over 650 Bangladeshi illegal migrants were apprehended trying to enter the US over the Southwest border. In one case from 2018, a major human trafficker from Bangladesh was arrested while living in a Mexican hotel close to the US border.
Read next installment: Pakistani spy agency behind narco-trade
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is an internationally acclaimed multi-award-winning anti-jihadist journalist, counter-terrorism specialist and editor of Blitz