‘Heroin smugglers used diplomatic passports, VIP channel at BIA’

Link between Gampola gang and Canadian Lankan held for smuggling 36 kgs of heroin to be probed

by Shamindra Ferdinando

Deputy Foreign Minister Ajith P. Perera yesterday alleged that some of those who had received diplomatic/official passports during the UPFA administration were believed to have exploited the facility to smuggle in narcotics through the Bandaranaike International Airport.

 Responding to a query by The Island, Perera claimed that they had used the VIP channel for that purpose for years.

The Kalutara District MP emphasised the responsibility on the part of the police to check with the Immigration and Emigration to establish the identities of those who had received diplomatic passports through political influence. The DM said that it would be of pivotal importance to identify those who had abused their diplomatic/official passports and as well as their political masters. He said that anyone having a diplomatic/official passport, unless he or she was entitled to it should be subject to scrutiny.

 The Deputy Minister said the police hadn’t been able to bring an investigation into the alleged use of then Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne’s Office in a major heroin smuggling operation involving Pakistanis to a conclusion.  

Responding to Deputy Foreign Minister Perera, Police spokesman SSP Ajith Rohana acknowledged that the police hadn’t recorded the then Premier Jayaratne’s statement, though the police had questioned his son, Central Provincial Council member Anuradha Lanka Jayaratne as regards his involvement.

The Police Spokesman said that the investigation was continuing. 

dual-citizenshipAppearing live on Sirasa political programme on Thursday night, DM Perera said that he had an opportunity to organise the Opposition campaign at the Gampola electorate at a recent election. “I was told how bundles of money had been distributed among the people.” 

He said action had now been taken to restrict the use of diplomatic/official passports.

Asked whether the Gampola narcotics ring could have been involved with a Canadian passport holder now in Sri Lankan custody regarding an abortive bid to smuggle in 36 kilos of heroin in early March last year, the police spokesman said that the Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) was continuing investigations. The Canadian Mohammed Ali Sabri and a 54-year-old Paksitani had been among three persons arrested in connection with that particular investigation, the officer said. 

Sabri had obtained Canadian citizenship in 1996. 

The police estimated the value of heroin seized at Orugodawatte, to which former PM’s office was linked at Rs. 360 mn. It was detected on a tip off from British authorities.