Sri Lanka probes political links to drug kingpin

COLOMBO (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s police said Tuesday they were investigating whether a man who confessed to smuggling over 1,000 kilos of heroin to the island over three years had political protection.

Samantha Kumara Vithanage was arrested in Pakistan earlier this month and taken back to Sri Lanka, police spokesman Ajith Rohana said.

He told detectives he had imported about 1,000 kilos (2,200 pounds) of heroin worth a total of $75 million since 2012 to Colombo, a key hub for the narcotic originating in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Rohana said investigations showed he had links to lawmaker Duminda Silva, who was attached to the defence ministry under former president Mahinda Rajapakse.

"We have information that MP Duminda Silva received large sums of money from Samantha Kumara Vithanage, alias Wele Sudha," Rohana told reporters.

"We secured a court order today to check all banks and financial institutions to track down his money."

Silva was a key financier of the former governing coalition under Rajapaske.

Rohana said the Central Bank of Sri Lanka had been asked to track down any foreign assets of Silva’s in Pakistan and Dubai.

Silva, who could not be contacted for comment, cannot leave the country because his passport has already been impounded in connection with an unrelated murder case, Rohana said.

Rajapakse and his powerful family are accused of large-scale corruption during his decade in office, which ended earlier this month.

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