The Sunday Leader

Borella’s Drug Addiction

By Camelia Nathaniel

The residents of Borella are facing great difficulty due to the increasing drug addicts in the area, who have since of late been bold enough to engage in this illegal practice of drug abuse in the open.

Speaking to The Sunday Leader, residents of Gothami Road in Borella said that these drug addicts are engaging in this practice openly as the police do not frequent that area. “Teenagers are also lured into this drug addiction. They sit along the canal and it is a huge problem for the residents. Females find it very hard to even walk on the street as they pass rude remarks and make passes at them,” the residents said, “There is a pigeon coup in this area and when they feel that the police are in the vicinity they gather near that coup and pretend to be tending to the pigeons.”

Further, robbery has increased largely in the area. “If any of our gates are left open, they come and rob anything that they can lay their hands on. These addicts cannot bear to see a mobile phone. If a phone is charging in a room, and a window is open, in no time the phones are stolen,” they said.

Complaints ignored

According to the residents, though many complaints have been lodged with the Borella police regarding this menace no action is taken. “When we complain, the police say that there is no point in arresting them and they simply choose to ignore the complaints,” said one resident.

A resident of Magazine Road stated that gangs of drug addicts wait for the traders to bring in the supply. In these areas, this scourge has become more unbearable in the recent past, disrupting the peace of mind and safety of the residents.
However, when inquired, police sources claim that the drug users have not increased but, on the contrary, they have reduced due to the police arresting most of the drug addicts and sending them for rehabilitation.

According to a source within the Borella police, they are targeting the drug addicts and taking them into custody and, subsequent to producing them in courts, they are sent for rehabilitation for up to one year.

Passing blame

However, these police sources claim that, while they hand over the drug addicts to the rehabilitation authorities to be rehabilitated, these authorities are reluctant to take them in and claim that they have no space to accommodate them.

These drug users who are sent to prison after being charged somehow find ways of obtaining the drugs while behind bars as well, making the whole exercise of incarceration futile. The police sources also claim that even the drug dealers, when sent to prison for these offences, find avenues to operate their distribution network from within the prison walls by way of mobile phones and contacts on the outside.

This problem has been raised many a time, but the issue, to date, remains unresolved due to the corrupt nature of the prison authorities and the police, and in certain instances, influenced by the politicians who are behind the whole operation.

Meanwhile, in addition to the drug menace in Borella, the activities of brothels have also increased, posing a great threat to the youth in the area. The police have successfully raided many of these brothels during the recent past and, even last week, another brothel was raided and five females were arrested. The same team of police officers headed by I P Karunaratne raided another building on Baseline Road last Thursday and arrested another five Indian women who had overstayed their visa. They were subsequently deported.
Last Thursday, a suspect was taken into custody in Wanathamulla and police recovered eight grams of heroin in his possession along with Rs 56,000, and, upon interrogating this suspect, the police were able to recover another 10 grams of heroin.

Police: no time, no resources

According to the Borella police, within the past two months, 11 leading drugs dealers had been arrested, produced in court and remanded. The main areas in which these drug dealers operate are Magazine Road, Wanathamulla, T20watta, and Martha Road. The Borella police had arrested 96 drug dealers in these areas during last year.
While the residents blame the police for their inability to arrest these drug dealers and addicts, the police claim that, in order to apprehend the main suspects, extensive investigations need to be conducted. However, the police say that they do not have the time or resources.

However, while several container loads of drugs have been confiscated in the recent past, to date, there have been no arrests made. The whole issue has been swept under the carpet.

Breaking the habit

The police also claim to be facing numerous issues when they arrest these drug addicts as they could face various health conditions due to their addiction. The main drug dealers use these addicts for the distribution of drugs by providing them their requirement of drugs for the day. Hence, these main dealers are not in the open and only the manipulated addicts are apprehended; this does not arrest the drug problem in the area. However, the police are arresting these addicts and sending them for rehabilitation in an attempt to break that link.

When asked about the situation in Borella, the Officer In Charge (OIC) Chief Inspector Prasad Siriwardena told The Sunday Leader that the current police hierarchy, including the IGP, is adamant to stop the drug menace in the country and have given the police personnel all the authority to conduct their raids and apprehend these suspects.
However, he said that the rehabilitation program for these drug addicts would be more fruitful if the authorities would contact the families of these drug addicts and work together with them in the rehabilitation process.

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