The Sri Lanka Navy has arrested 343 persons, both local and foreign, involved in a wide array of illegal acts such as smuggling of narcotics, prescription drugs, contraband, and human smuggling during multiple operations conducted in 2023.
Issuing a statement, the Navy said it consistently carried out successful operations to address an assortment of illicit activities, including drug trafficking, within the ocean region.
The Navy has been collaborating closely with the Sri Lanka Police, Police Narcotic Bureau, State Intelligence Service, and Police STF, actively sharing information during anti-drug operations.
In operations conducted in 2023, significant quantities of illicit substances were seized, including over 715kg of heroin, over 3,711kg of Kerala cannabis, over 50kg of local cannabis, more than 140kg of hashish and more than 11kg of Crystal Methamphetamine (Ice). In addition, 92,572 plants of local cannabis were also destroyed during these operations.
Additionally, 187 individuals suspected of involvement in drug trafficking have been apprehended. Among them are 18 individuals with local fishing trawlers, 05 Iranian suspects with an Iranian dhow, 03 Pakistani suspects, and 06 Indian suspects operating with 02 Indian fishing trawlers. These apprehensions have led to the initiation of further legal proceedings against the suspects, upon their apprehension.
Also, the Navy has apprehended 08 suspects attempting to sell 191 bottles of foreign liquor as well as 41,380 illegal cigarettes, 10,167,55 prescription drugs, 2,642 ‘Madana Modaka’ drug pills and 42 suspects in connection to those illegal acts. Moreover, 11 elephant pearls, over 14kg of gold made ready to be smuggled from the country with 11 suspects and 03 local trawlers were held as part of the naval operations in the year 2023.
The Navy also seized over 36,910kg of smuggled Tendu leaves, over 878kg of tobacco powder, more than 990kg of turmeric, over 1,267kg of cardamom, 4,722 bottles and 12,907 packets of agrochemical, 45,418 cosmetic products and apprehended 60 suspects in the past year.
In preventive human smuggling and illegal migration efforts, the Navy held 01 boat and 05 persons for their involvement in human smuggling. Additionally, the Navy has apprehended 01 boat and 09 individuals attempting illegal migration to India, as well as 02 boats and 07 individuals attempting illegal migration from India to Sri Lanka. Upon being held, they were handed over to authorities for further legal action.
Continuing the operations, the Sri Lanka Navy said it is determined to conduct its operations in 2024 as well to thwart all forms of illegal activities stemming from the ocean, intending to create safe and secure seas.