Sri Lanka Navy deployed its Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) SLNS ‘Samudura’ to seize a vessel loaded with a large consignment of drugs in high seas about 548 nautical miles (985km) off Sri Lankan shores. The drug carrying vessel along with the suspects in connection to this drug racket was brought to the Dikkowita fisheries harbour this morning (15th April 2020).
This is a result of a successful operation carried out by Sri Lanka Navy based on information received from persons aboard vessels seized in high seas on 28th March. Based on that information and by analysing local and international intelligence, it was revealed that there was another vessel loaded with drugs heading Sri Lanka and a drug-consignment from that vessel to reach Sri Lankan shores. Responding promptly to the situation, on March 30, the Offshore Patrol Vessel SLNS ‘Samudura’ was sent out for a 14-day operation in high seas.
It is in this backdrop, SLNS ‘Samudura’ was on surveillance in the said sea area and received several satellite images from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). After further analysis of these satellite images, the ship was directed towards the equator. Meanwhile, on 10th April 2020 around 11.00 a.m., SLNS ‘Samudura’ was able to detect a Flag State-less foreign vessel loaded with drugs. During further search of the vessel, the Navy recovered about 281kg of heroin and 48kg of crystal methamphetamine (ice) worth over Rs. 3,270 million.
Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Piyal De Silva and several other senior officers of the Police Narcotics Bureau and the Navy were also present on this occasion where the drug-vessel and its suspects were escorted to the Dikkowita fisheries harbour. Meanwhile, further investigations and onward legal action with regard to the seized vessel, suspects and consignment of drugs will be conducted by the Police Narcotics Bureau.
While conducting a record-breaking number of drug-bust operations in known history, the Navy has seized 718kg of heroin, 797kg of crystal methamphetamine, 581kg of ketamine and 2,475kg of cannabis in the first three and half months of year 2020. The street value of these mammoth consignments of drugs is estimated to be over Rs. 21 billion.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka Navy will continue to conduct regular search operations and crackdowns on vessels carrying narcotics in international waters. In this regard the Navy makes use of local and foreign intelligence as well as satellite technology for surveillance. Further, the Sri Lanka Navy, working in coordination with the Police Narcotics Bureau, has taken necessary steps in pursuit of foreign and local partners in the narcotic supply chain. Addressing on this occasion, Commander of the Navy emphasized that the local fishing community should carry on their livelihood in such a manner that they do not get caught in trading of drugs.