A sound deterrent | Daily News


A sound deterrent

The decision taken by the Government to seize bank accounts and other assets of convicted drug barons and their associates no doubt adds another string to bow to the currents efforts of the administration’s fight against the drugs underworld.

According to news reports, the Government will introduce laws to seize money in bank accounts and vehicles of convicted drug barons and their allies. Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa is to meet officials of the Treasury, the Attorney General’s Department and law enforcement authorities to discuss the parameters of the legislatiuon, the news report stated.

The move comes amidst the unravelling of a series of bank accounts maintained by leading members of the drugs underworld following their arrests together with the seizure over 80 vehicles and large extents of land and property in their possession.

It was revealed that transactions amounting Rs. 2.6 billion had been made from accounts of drug traffickers,with a notorious drug dealer found to have operated a cash account containing Rs.725 million. How come this was made possible?.

The other day we mentioned in this column that if the ongoing drug busting operations are to brought to a successful conclusion, the entire edifice of drugs operations network should be attacked and not just the arrest of the operatives per se. We say this because the whole business of cash transactions running into billions of rupees cannot be done in isolation.

There indeed has to be collusion to have such mammoth amounts in bank accounts with no questions asked.We say this because an ordinary citizen cannot deposit even a measly Rs.100,000 in a bank without having to answer awkward questions as the source of income.

How come an amount as large as Rs. 2.6 billion came to be freely moved around without passing scrutiny of the banks concerned. Ditto for the series of luxury vehicles seized and the land purchased by the racketeers. How come they managed to pass muster with the Land Registry, the Inland Revenue Department etc. none the wiser? The whole sordid saga reeks to high heaven with suspicion.Why not extend the scope of the proposed law to also include the collaborators as well ?

The recent arrest of Police Narcotic Bureau officers who also had illegally earned millions in their bank accounts, received for collaborating with the drug barons. Will their bank accounts too be sealed off and the money confiscated as proposed in the new legislation?.

Still, the proposed law is bound to have a deterrent effect on big time operators with the knowledge that their illegal earnings would be to no avail. But banks are not the only avenue to conceal their illegal earnings. There are other means of doing this such as operating legitimate businesses and other such means where the money could be laundered without raising suspicions. Hence all arms of the state that concern themselves with personal assets of individuals such as the Inland Revenue Department and Banks should be alerted to this possibility and be on the watch out. No loophole should be left for the offenders to creep through. In short the noose should be tightened in a way that no drug lord can escape his ill-gotten wealth if we are see an end to the Narcotics business in this country.

Certainly, the arrest of the Police Narcotics Bureau sleuths and a host of prison officers, jailers aiding and abetting drug lords has helped blow the lid off big time drug running and the narcotics network.There should not be any let up and the successfully operation ordered by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa should be taken to its logical conclusion until the narcotics business is weeded out of this country. According to Western Province Senior DIG Deshabandu Tennakoon there are 533,883 drug addicts in the country out of which 25,00 are from the Western Province. In short, one in every 40 Sri Lankans are drug addicts. The all out war launched by the President against the drugs business is certainly showing results.The deployment of STF in the anti-narcotics operations too is paying dividends.The extent to which the narcotics business has grown in the country could be gauged from the high profile collaborators involved such as top officers of the Police Narcotics Bureau and even employees of the Government Analyst’s Department not to mention high ranking prison officials.There could be more stunning revelations as the full extent of the drug business continue to unravel.

The drug trade is chiefly responsible for the exponential growth of the underworld in this country. A majority of killings take place as a result of drugs rivalry. It is in this context that the commitment and single-minded purpose shown by Defence Secretary Major General (Rtd), Kamal Gunaratne to totally root out the underworld and extortion rackets together with the narcotics trade should be lauded.

Among the key pledges of President Rajapaksa before assuming office was to make the country a safe place for all citizens and strict implementation of the law. The President has made good his word on this score as one can see from the rapid steps being taken to dismantle the narcotics network and fight the netherworld of crime.

The country also appears to be secure from the terrorist/extremist threat with a well briefed and efficient Intelligence Service, equal to the task.

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