Written by Staff Writer
13 Oct, 2015 | 8:05 pm
A meeting of senior drug enforcement officials of the Indian Ocean Region commenced under the auspices of President Maithripala Sirisena on Tuesday, October 13.
This meeting will be held until October 15. The meeting is jointly organised with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Ministry of Defence and the Global Maritime Crime Programme
State Minister of Defence, Ruwan Wijewardene stated that the illicit drug trade involving the cultivation, manufacture and distribution and sale of substances strikes at the core in the society and value systems, feeding on vulnerable segments, causing untold suffering and immense damage.
He went on to note that the president has clearly demonstrated his personal interest and commitment in getting rid of the drug menace in the country. He also stated that steps have also been taken to bring together various line ministries and agencies within government in order to have a more coordinated and cohesive response to this issue.
He added that in the last three years there has been a substantial shift in the preferred routes for the smuggling of Heroin, in the global market. Some of the Heroin is moved in shipping containers and in many other cases it is shipped in local trading doors, with the knowledge of the locally recruited crew.
He further stated that the problem faced is a common one and therefore common solutions must be found. It is up to them in the region to ensure that a clear message goes to the traffickers that the Indian ocean region will not tolerate them applying their trade either from a land or maritime route, it was stated.
Commander of Sri Lanka Navy, Vice Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne stated that one of the most important sea lanes of communication, as well as the sea lanes of trade, runs just south of Sri Lanka.
Vice Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne went on to note that they had a visible enemy out at sea prior to 2009 which is the terrorist group but at present they don’t have a visible enemy out at sea and that no navy could place hundred percent eyes in each and every square inch of the ocean space.
He added that he has cited a few points as to why it is difficult to detect vessels smuggling drugs. The Navy Commander stated:
They exactly know how our weaknesses, what are our weaknesses and capitalise on them. One of the major methods of trafficking drugs to Sri Lankan is through these fishing vessels.
He added that it is practically impossible to check each and every fishing vessel by the Sri Lankan Navy and the Sri Lanka Coast Guard. He went on to point out that it is said that total Heroin smuggled to Sri Lanka is estimated around 3500 kilogrammes per year.
Meanwhile, a special report consisting of details centering the importance of this meeting was presented to President Maithripala Sirisena by the Head of Global Maritime Crime Programme, Alan Cole
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