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Heroin’s Ugly Face

By Nirmala Kannangara in Negombo - Pictures by Asoka Fernando

An ill famed house in the guise of a restaurant

Negombo seems to be the worst heroin affected area in the country after Kolonnawa where the hapless residents are caught between politicians and police.

Unlike in the ‘kasippu’ (illicit liquor) era, where the police nabbed the illicit liquor dealers, today the police nab only the drug addicts and safeguard the dealers as well as the drug smugglers, according to Negombo residents.

Heroin is sold openly on the Wellaveediya beach between the Negombo police and the deep blue sea. According to residents and drug addicts, drug dealers come to the beach by seven in the morning with heroin in their possession to sell to the fishermen who come to the shore after a hectic night’s work out at sea.

“The police who are on patrol along the beach know who these drug dealers are and put a blind eye. These police officers openly take money from each drug dealer. After taking money from these drug dealers, the police officers turn to us and arrest us for taking drugs. What a joke this is,” claimed Asarappa, a fisherman.

Negombo police involvement

Negombo police is accused of aiding and abetting drug smugglers and dealers and, he added. their duty is only to arrest drug addicts but not to arrest drug dealers or smugglers.

“This is a known fact in the area. Although we point the finger towards the police for not discharging their duties, we also should know that these police officers do not want to get their hands ‘burnt’ by arresting the drug traffickers and their supporters. We know as to what happened to a high ranking and powerful local politician in the area in 2011. A large STF contingent swooped down on this politician’s residence and the residences of five of his close supporters and relatives in search of drugs. Instead of allowing the STF to carry out their duties, the government intervened and stopped the search operation. As a result, heroin is freely available anywhere in Negombo at any time,” said Asarappa.

Asarappa

According to him, this politician in question had nothing when he entered into politics but was able to acquire a vast wealth within a short period. “This is all because of drug smuggling,” he claimed.

He further said as to how the Negombo Municipal Council has failed to collect money from the Wellaveediya fish market although the municipality spent millions of rupees to build the market.

“For each stall they charge hundred rupees or more per day depending on the size of the stall. Even if the stall is closed for days still the owner has to pay this money. To whom does this money goes to? To whom does the money collected from the Wellaveediya car park go to? All this money goes to this particular politician. Our hard earned money was spent to build the fish market and the benefit is taken by this politician. In addition, the family runs many ill famed houses in the guise of massage parlours. The police only raid small rooms but not these luxury ill famed houses,” he added.

Meanwhile, residents in Asarappawatte said that drug dealers aim at school going children to promote drug usage amongst the younger generation.

“There are about 25 families in Asarappawatte who are underprivileged. We are not given Samurdhi or any other benefits said to be given to low income families. Although our politicians have forgotten us, they have not forgotten our school going children. Our children do not attend leading schools but small schools. It is these schools the drug dealers have targeted to promote drugs by different methods. Packets of drugs come with colourful stickers and eye catching picture post cards. When the children buy these stickers or picture post cards they do not throw the packet of drug that comes with it. Once they use the drugs, they get addicted, and seek more from these dealers. What are the police doing to stop this? This won’t happen near big schools, only around targeted small schools,” said Elizabeth.

Local politician to blame

Unlike in Kolonnawa and Kelaniya, where residents are scared to talk about the drug menace, residents in Negombo accused this powerful local politician for smuggling heroin to Negombo.

“These drugs come to Chilaw, Marawila and Puttalam from South India and are transported to Negombo in super luxury vehicles. The police never check these vehicles but keep on saluting them. That is how the drug mafia is operating in Negombo,” said a lottery ticket seller on condition of anonymity.

A jackfruit seller at the Negombo market described as to how her son was once arrested for taking a friend to a drug dealer to buy a packet of heroin.

“My son too is a drug addict and, on this particular day, he had taken a friend to a drug dealer. The police arrested my son but not the person who bought or sold heroin. If the police could arrest my son who only showed the drug spot to his friend, why couldn’t they arrest the dealer and the purchaser? When I asked this from a police officer at the police station I got scolded in filth. Is this the justice the police are supposed to maintain?” asked Mary.

Mary requested The Sunday Leader to use her real name as she is not afraid of any drug smuggler or dealer.

“I have three children and amongst all difficulties I brought them up to be good citizens. I taught them what is right and what is wrong. But I could not save my elder son from drugs as he was very much involved in pasting posters of a certain local politician. It was during this time that my son got addicted to heroin and if he doesn’t have money to take drugs, either he will steal some valuables from the neighborhood or grab my hard earned money. My daily income is around one thousand rupees and it is with this that I feed this son’s three small children. The days my son grab my money his three children have had to go to sleep with empty stomachs,” said Mary.

It is the same story with Kamala who sells fish at the fish market. Her only son is a drug addict and all her attempts to make him take medicine to stop the addiction have gone in vain.

“Is there a God above us? If so why can he not see our sufferings? If politicians are not involved in drug trafficking, the police should have eradicated this drug menace from Negombo a long time ago. Our hard earned money goes to these politicians who lead luxurious lives,” said Kamala.

According to her, drugs are freely available in all 39 grama seva divisions in Negombo.

“Most of our livelihood is more or less involved in the fishing industry and most of the men are drug addicts. Since the drugs are sold openly on the beach every morning and evening, it is very easy for the police to arrest the drug dealers and eradicate the drug menace. There is no point in arresting the drug addicts leaving the drug peddlers and dealers behind,” said Kamala.
Meanwhile, Samantha who is helps sort out the fish in the fishing nets on Meepurawella said that he spends Rs 1200 for a small packet of heroin every morning.

Habit comes first

“I am doing odd jobs on the beach. When fishing boats come ashore I help them to sort out the fish and, if not, help the dried fish mudalali with his work. There are many days that I do not earn enough of money to buy a packet of heroin. Then I ask my friends to allow me to join them,” said Samantha.

“I have two sons and two daughters and the needs are endless. I know I am spending all my earnings on drugs but not a cent on my children. When I go home they come and ask what I bought for them to eat. My wife scolds me continuously for not giving money for household expenses. If dinner is prepared, most of the time, I do not get my share. But I can bear all this if I have taken heroin. Unlike after consuming arrack, after taking heroin, no one can provoke us. That is why I take even a small puff in the evening so I can ignore what my wife and children say. When I take drugs in the morning, I get the strength to do lot of work,” added Samantha.

However, Samantha said that he badly needs rehabilitation to stop his drug addiction.

“Madam, is there any way that you can help me to overcome this habit? I once went to Kalpitiya for work and stayed for three months but did not take drugs. I was happy and knew that I had the will-power to stop the habit. But when I came back I saw how my friends were enjoying themselves after taking heroin and I got addicted again,” said Samantha.

It was the same story with Ruwan who also helps the fishermen sort out fish.

“Earlier, I was addicted to kassippu. Then someone offered me heroin claiming that it will give me strength. I wish I could stop this habit as my family is suffering without food. It is my mother that looks after my kids. My children have never had a good square meal. I know that I am at fault but I cannot overcome this habit,” said Ruwan.

Meanwhile, residents in Kolonnawa, Kelaniya and their suburbs, too, are angry with local politicians for smuggling drugs to the area.

Kelaniya drug haven

The sacred city of Kelaniya is once again becoming a haven for drug peddlers, extortionists, prostitution, intimidators and murders, alleged residents.

“There are infamous politicians that have parachuted to Kelaniya from nowhere to destroy this holy city. They do not spare even school boys and have destroyed families with the introduction of drugs, gun culture and prostitution. Any request made by us to the police in order to maintain law and order is not heeded as they only listen only to the politician who has destroyed this holy city.

However, the police is quick to take note of any request made by drug peddlers, prostitutes, extortionists or intimidators as they have political support,” said the residents.

They further claimed as to how licenses were not needed for business ventures in Kelaniya and its suburbs if this politician’s cutouts adorn any business place.

“These cutouts keep the police out of bound. Liquor shops and brothel houses in the guise of restaurants can operate if the cutout is displayed. Samanala Restaurant in Kiribathgoda is one such place where wild boar, venison and any other illegal meat is available,” claimed the residents

Meanwhile, drug smuggling to Kolonnawa from Kalpitiya is taking place without any hindrance thanks to a powerful parliamentarian in the area, according to a civil society member.

“It was after 1977 that this drug menace came to most parts of the country. True, there were people who were involved in selling drugs because they had the political support, but now it is the politicians that are involved in the drug business and the underworld supporters are helping them to transport the drugs from one place to another,” said a mother of a drug addict on condition of anonymity.

According to this mother, two out of her three sons are drug addicts. She shared that she was happy when both sons had to stop taking drugs when the prices went up in 2012.

“I earn money from selling keera to houses and my day starts at four in the morning. Other than my youngest son, who was wise enough not to get caught to this drug addiction, the other two depend on me. When the prices of the packets of heroin went up due to a severe shortage, my sons stopped taking drugs but got addicted to kasippu which is still far better than heroin. Unfortunately, the politician who smuggled these drugs came back to the country and once again drugs are sold freely and cheaply. Both my sons are back to their old habits,” said the mother.

According to the sources, a packet of heroin once went up over Rs 2, 500 when there was an acute drug shortage in Kolonnawa two years ago.

“This was because one of the leading drug smuggler had to leave the country for a while. In his absence, there was a severe drug shortage in our villagers,” added the sources.

Meanwhile, a civil society member in Kolonnawa who wished to remain anonymous in fear of their members’ lives said that they are under threat from a parliamentarian and a Chairman of a Urban Council in the area.

“Both these politicians are large scale drug smugglers and should be held accountable for the devastation that has taken place in the lives of young and middle aged people. During the UNP regime, there were one or two politicians who did not smuggle drugs but helped their supporters who sold heroin indirectly. This was done in a small way. Now it is other way around,” said the civil society members.

Kimbulaele Guna

According to sources, it is underworld gang member Kimbulaele Guna who sends drugs to Sri Lanka from India.

“These drugs are transported in Pajeros and no one checks these vehicles. These politicians also use disabled people, young beauties, small children and even pregnant mothers to transport these drugs as the police do not suspect them. A few months ago, a white van was seen near Anandaramaya in the middle of the night. A Muslim resident had gone closer to the van to see what was happening. A man with a sword had then threatened this Muslim resident with death unless he left the place. We assume that it was a gang sent by one of these politicians to threaten the monk in the temple who is vociferous against the drug menace,” said the sources.

They further claimed as to how they found an unknown middle-aged man hiding in the same temple one late evening, waiting for the Buddhist monk to come out to take part in the evening bodhi pujawa.

“On this particular day, the Buddhist monk was not at the temple. When we questioned him as to why he came, he pretended to be a drug addict and then ran away,” they added.

Sumanasiri, a resident of Sinhapuraya in Kolonnawa, said he has to bring packets of heroin to his wife to save his child’s life.
“When I got married, I did not know my wife was a drug addict. However, she got pregnant, and after delivering the baby, the infant refused to take milk from the mother. It was only later I understood that my wife takes heroin. Even the baby is addicted to this drug,” he added.

“If I do not have any work, I rob people to bring heroin to my wife as I do not want to see my child suffering,” he said.
There was a small boy of six years old whose eyes have bulged out and his mouth and teeth were looking extremely abnormal. It was his aunty that later said that the child’s mother was a drug addict before she got pregnant with this child.
“She was a drug addict and now she is in Welikada. It is I who looks after this child for the past three years,” the aunt said.
When The Sunday Leader contacted a paediatrician to find out whether foetus are affected when the mother takes drugs, the doctor said that these mothers are more prone to deliver deformed babies.

15 Comments for “Heroin’s Ugly Face”

  1. ed

    THIS IS A DEVEL”S DEN. THESE POLITICIAN WHO DESTROY THE FUTURE GENERATIONS IN THIS COUNTRY ARE GUILTY OF CRIMES CAUSED DUE TO THEIR ACTIONS ON SELLING DRUGS , ACCUSED AS FETUS KILLERS (JUST AS WAR CRIMES)

    THIS COUNTRY IS CALLED THE WONDER OF ASIA ! IN SINHALA ASIAAWE ASHCHARRIYA !!!!

  2. Max

    The Politicians can’t have their high living standards without the illicit drug trade.

  3. Malin

    It’s a pity that the Government cannot get rid of this drug menace when the Government could get rid off the most brutal terrorist outfit in the world-LTTE.

  4. Cuckoo

    It’s such a pity , any idiot reading this can easily assume who these politicians are, if such info is true what are the leaders in this country doing so, such a shame…

  5. Malin Gunawardene

    SL is a poverty stricken heroin dump. Add to this, rapes of foreigners, violence, white van, genocide, corruption, murder, robbery and you have the worst country in the world.

    • Senaratne

      Malin unless you are on some terrorist payroll , dont use the word genocide without even knowing its proper meaning.
      Try going back to school!
      Domestic issues mentioned here have nothing to do with the situation caused internationally by a foul mouthed ex army officer and the LTTE RUMP.
      hope u have the brain power to comprehend!

  6. Stanley Mayadunne

    Sri Lajka ks not the worst country in the world although their are problems with drug addiction, robberies, etc., etc., like in any other South Asian or African country.

    To name is own mother land as the worst country in the world, Malin Gunawardene must be a man who lick the boots of the whites from the Western Countries who are out to destroy Sri Lanka.

    Whilst construcftive criticism is accepted, this is not constructive criticism but writing something with the intention of tanishing the image of the coutnry.

    You must be ahsmed of your self Gunawardena, for being a Sri Lankan.

  7. kudda

    when country’s prime minister doing heroin business by container loads what else you accept.Sri Lanka is a paradise of HEROIN thanks to the government politicians.asschryamath chinthanaya.

  8. Anura de Mel

    It is the Sri Lankan President who is responsible for this as he is keeping these drug dealing politicians
    in the govenment so he can remain in power forever.

  9. bimbo

    Stanley M, a shameless bastard who wants to be a Desha Premiya by even selling his own country.

    • Senaratne

      Judging by your comments bimbo, its looks like you are the bastard who doesnt know your parentage. Infact yourused ID bimbo suits you just fine. Stanley sounds like a rational mature human beingwhere as you sound like some sort of slum dwelling teen who has free access to the internet and have got his priorities mixed up and needs a lesson in basic english language.

  10. Max

    Let’s hope these Politicians could be prosecuted in the future when they have lost their power, historic criminal charges could be brought against them.

  11. Prasanna

    The reason why the Police are turning a blind eye to it is because the drug turf belongs to Nimal Lanza.

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