A stock of smuggled Kendu leaves held by Navy in Marawila

The Navy during a special search operation conducted in the beach area of Marawila today (05th September 2020) had apprehended 06 suspects with about 506 kilograms of kendu leaves attempted to be smuggled into the country by sea.

During this special operation conducted by the Western Naval Command at the Marawila beach, two (02) suspects were apprehended as they were unloading about 506 kilograms of kendu leaves in 16 sacks, smuggled by a dinghy. The Navy also seized a lorry with four (04) prospective buyers who had come to the beach to transport the stock of kendu leaves.

There is a demand for beedi products among the low income rural and urban community as well as the fishing community who smoke tobacco products. Further, the beedi wrapping industry using kendu leaves with tobacco is practiced in several districts of Sri Lanka as well. As a result of policy decisions taken from time to time to discourage these products which do not have any hygienic standards, the racketeers are attempting to smuggle them to Sri Lanka through illegal means. Though these products are popular among the low income rural and urban community as well as the fishing community, the use of beedi products is highly unhealthy.

The apprehended persons have been identified as the residents of Pesalei, Pannala and Eluwankulam areas, aged between 18 to 50 years. The accused along with the stock of kendu leaves, dinghy and lorry were handed over to the Marawila Police for onward investigation, following the guidelines issued by the health sector in the current COVID-19 pandemic situation.