Links of two Sri Lankans in drug trafficking racket in India probed | Daily News

Links of two Sri Lankans in drug trafficking racket in India probed

Following a failed attempt to eliminate a Sri Lankan drug enforcement inspector in May 2017, M.M.M. Nawas and Mohamed Afnas — now arrested by the Narcotics Control Bureau(NCB) for alleged role in an international drug trafficking racket, fled by boats. They entered India through the Rameswaram coast.

The two Sri Lankan nationals eventually took refuge in the outskirts of Chennai. “Nawas is wanted for the attempted murder of the Sri Lankan inspector, Neomal Rangajeewa, who was seriously injured in the attack,” said an NCB official.

The duo arranged a house for them and started living there as cloth merchants. The NCB probe revealed that they used Sri Lankan SIM cards and other Internet-enabled platforms to remain in touch with other key members of the syndicate operating from Sri Lanka.

“Though no satellite phones have been recovered so far, the possibility of its use by the two accused cannot be ruled out as of now,” said a senior agency official.

During their stay in Chennai, Nawas and Afnas allegedly got Aadhaar and PAN cards made using fictitious names. They even managed to secure loans from banks posing as Indian nationals. “For the locals, they were cloth traders. However, they were clandestinely coordinating mid sea pick-up and delivery of heroin from Pakistani and Iranian vessels,” the official said.

“Through this syndicate, which has links in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Australia, the consignments were shipped off the Karachi coast in fishing boats. These vessels usually do not enter the Indian territorial waters. In the high seas, the consignments are shifted to the other boats for further transportation to transit points in Sri Lanka and the Maldives,” said the official.

The official said Australia and Indonesia were favourite destinations for the heroin consignments as it fetched huge profits there. “Another emerging trend is the smuggling of crystal meth, made using the ephedrine extracted from Ephedra plants in Afghanistan, through the same routes. It is in high demand in Australia,” said another official.

The NCB had been developing intelligence on the syndicate for the past few months, which led to huge drug seizures in India and Sri Lanka. It took almost two months for the agency to track down Nawas and Afnas.

As it turns out, Nawas is allegedly a close associate of one Kanjipani Imran, who is in a Sri Lankan jail and has direct links with Pak.-based drug cartels. A Pakistani national is lodged in the same prison and through him, the syndicate communicates with the drug suppliers. The NCB has written to its counterparts in Sri Lanka for more information about the suspects and the recent seizures linked to them.

“Preliminary findings indicate that, to avoid getting caught, those operating from Tamil Nadu would not directly contact the suppliers in Pakistan. The communication always took place through the associates operating in Sri Lanka,” the official said.

Imran ran the operations along with Sri Lankan underworld don Makandure Madhush. In 2019, they were arrested in Dubai and extradited to Sri Lanka. Madhush was killed in a crossfire between the police and drugpeddlers in October last year.

The NCB has reasons to believe that Nawas and Afnas were in touch with another Sri Lankan national, Angoda Lokka, an associate of Madhush, who had also been living in India since 2017. He died under mysterious circumstances in Coimbatore in July 2020.

- The Hindu