The Presidential Task Force on Drug Prevention (PTFDP) says that the Department of Excise had admitted that 30 per cent of the liquor production within the country remained untaxed.
The Task Force had on 30 October summoned a meeting with all teams involved in conducting narcotics raids, including the Department of Excise, the Sri Lanka Ports Authority, the Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB), the Special Task Force (STF), the Customs and the Department of Prisons. The meeting’s agenda focused on frauds perpetrated by officers of the Departments of Excise and Prisons, and the Customs and the loss to the country as a result. The President’s Secretary also participated.
Director of the Task Force, Dr. Samantha Kumara Kithalawaarachchi said that the Commissioner General of Excise, K.H.A. Meegasmulla had at the said meeting acknowledged the aforementioned fact.
All stakeholders agreed that a major change would have to take place in prisons with the view of breaking up drug networks operating from within prisons island-wide. In this regard, the President’s Secretary appointed a committee comprising an Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Justice, an officer of the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission, an officer from the STF, an officer from the PNB and a chief officer from the Department of Prisons, to provide a report within three weeks to the Task Force concerning what was required to tackle the issue. “Despite jammers being installed in prisons, criminals using phone networks, orchestrating drug deals and organized crime, thrive,” Dr. Kithalawaarachchi added.
Further, with the view of arresting the trend of cocaine being shipped via sugar consignments, a report was called from the Customs to be given to the Task Force within one week as to what international best practices, if not the use of a modern scanning system could be adopted to tackle this issue.
Meanwhile, the National Dangerous Drugs Control Board pointed out that there had been a 63% increase in the number of arrests made during the period from January this year to August in relation to heroin.
Chairman of the Board, Senior Professor of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Colombo, Ravindra Fernando said that there was also a 34% increase in the number of arrests for the same period in relation to illicit substances such as hashish, hallucinogens and tobacco based products.