stock of 100kg heroin worth Rs 700 million was confiscated by customs yesterday (21) at the Orugodawatte Customs compound. The stock was concealed within three paper moulding machines imported from Karachi, Pakistan.
The Customs inspected the container because they closely monitor all shipments from Pakistan as the country is the main hub of heroin (brown sugar) trade in the region.
Three suspects were arrested in connection with the incident, including the importer and two clearance officers, Customs Media Spokesman Leslie Gamini revealed. The three men are being kept in the custody of the Customs. All three arrested suspects are Sri Lankans and they are being further questioned so as to obtain more information on those who are engaged in the import of heroin. Last year police investigations had revealed that mastermind of South Asia’s largest known heroin smuggling racket, a Pakistani underworld kingpin known as Sardari Bawan, had visited Sri Lanka on 8 August, 2013 and had met with local operatives.
According to the Customs media spokesman, a 20-foot long container of grinding machines had arrived in Sri Lanka on 6 July and heroin was found hidden inside the pipes of the grinding machines. Further investigations are still being carried out regarding this incident.
In the recent past many stocks of heroin were seized by the Customs, mostly from containers arriving from Pakistan. Last year, Customs seized the largest heroin haul in South Asia where they sized nearly 250 kilograms of heroin imported from Pakistan. It is said that Pakistan is unable to process all the containers that goes through its ports.
After last year’s incident the Sri Lankan intelligence services reported that all imports from Pakistan should be checked as Pakistan is geographically vulnerable to drug trafficking, sharing a 2,430km-long, porous border with Afghanistan, the world’s largest producer of illicit opium. Pakistan itself has over 1,000 hectares of poppy cultivation, concentrated in the restive Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) on the border with Afghanistan.