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Covid-19 pandemic reduces illegal drug trade: PNB

By Maheesha Mudugamuwa

Sri Lanka has seen a reduction in illegal drug-related activities within the last three months due the Covid-19 situation in the country, according to the Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB).

PNB Director SSP Manjula Senarath told The Morning that the Bureau had conducted continuous operations even during the coronavirus period when the country was under curfew, and had managed to take a number of suspects into custody.

The officials have used telephone tower data to arrest drug dealers during the curfew period. During the curfew period, the traffickers couldn’t move and therefore, the illicit drug trade within the country has seen a reduction, according to the PNB Director.   

He noted that the Bureau had conducted two major operations and found 100 kg of heroin inside a stock of potatoes, and also 225 kg mixed with rice in March this year.  

Meanwhile, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has emphasised that crimes operated by underworld kingpins and the drug mafia from prisons must be put to an end without delay, at a discussion held at the Presidential Secretariat with the Prisons officials to review the current status of the prisons.

The President noted that the specific information relating to criminal activities and drug peddling operations from prisons had been received, and that the general public is appalled by this situation.

He also emphasised that the existing shortcomings of the Department of Prisons will be addressed, and the system will be overhauled. This restructuring process will be implemented through a committee comprising the Secretary of Defence, Army Commander, and Inspector General of Police (IGP). The President also advised the relevant officials to conduct the relevant operations, including the training of officers and providing incentives under a supervisory team.