Sri Lanka destroys nearly 800 kilos of cocaine
AFP – Sri Lankan police on Monday destroyed nearly 800 kilos (1,280 pounds) of cocaine in the presence of President Maithripala Sirisena, who has called for the death penalty for traffickers.
The drugs were seized in four raids between June 2016 and June 2018. More drugs await the conclusion of court cases before they are also destroyed under judicial supervision, officials said.
Sirisena vowed to step up his drug war and promised to import high tech equipment to detect narcotics at ports and airports, his office said in a statement.
Sirisena "reiterated his desire to carry out capital punishment for repeat drug offenders", the statement added.
Following a visit to the Philippines in January, Sirisena said he wanted to copy President Rodrigo Duterte’s strongarm tactics against illegal drugs.
He has vowed to end a 43-year moratorium on death penalty and execute repeat drug convicts, but is yet to sign a death warrant.
In February, police seized nearly 300 kilos of heroin worth $17 million, the island’s biggest haul, while in transit at a Colombo shopping mall.
In 2013, police seized 260 kilos of heroin brought into the country hidden inside tractors imported from Pakistan.
Sri Lanka’s biggest drug haul, by weight, was in December 2016 when police seized 800 kilos of cocaine. Six months earlier, authorities discovered 301 kilos of cocaine inside a shipping container.
Authorities believe the Indian Ocean island is also being used as a trafficking transit point.
Last week, nine Iranians were arrested transporting 100 kilos of heroin in a trawler.