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Soldier in uniform, deserter arrested with 45 kilos of heroin

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Probe on Army vehicles being used to move narcotics

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Army Commander Gen. Shavendra Silva has ordered a thorough investigation after the police Wednesday (24) night arrested two heroin couriers-––a serving soldier and a military deserter ––in the Horana police area.

Gen. Silva, who is also the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), has assured the police of their full cooperation, in addition to an internal probe into the high profile arrest of the soldier attached to Dambulla Army camp and a person who deserted the Army two months ago. The deserter was identified as a Lance Corporal.

Police spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana and Military spokesman Brig. Nilantha Premaratne yesterday (25) briefed the media at police headquarters of the operation conducted by the Panadura based Anti-Vice Strike Force following information received from the public.

The raiding party detained the two suspects along with a vehicle carrying 45 kgs and 376 grammes of heroin. Under interrogation, the suspects have revealed they received the contraband near Imaduwa entry point to the Southern Expressway and exited at Gelanigama. The police made the Horana detection close on the heels of the recovery of 200 grammes of heroin near the Angunakolapelessa entry/exit point.

DIG Rohana said that they believe the heroin was being taken to Tissamaharama from Weligama. “We are probing the possibility of Weligama being the centre of a major drug distribution cartel,” DIG Rohana said.

Previously no Lankan soldiers had been arrested with such a large consignment of heroin.

The media was told how the vehicle rented by the Army for its use ended up being used to transport drugs. At the time of the arrest the solder, a resident of Polonnaruwa who was the driver of the vehicle had been in uniform, the spokesmen said, alleging the arrested persons worked for two major heroin distributors based in Dubai or some other country. The deserter was in civilian clothes.

They identified one of the operators as Ruwan Chintaka of Midigama, Weligama. In addition to those drug dealers out of the country, the media was told of the alleged involvement of a 24-year-old person wanted in connection with a killing, in the Horana drug recovery.

DIG Rohana alleged that Chintaka was a close associate of notorious criminal Angoda Lokka whose death in India due to poisoning was confirmed by the Indian police recently.

The police spokesman said that new heroin dealers had emerged in the wake of the arrest of 14 major distributors and the recovery of 1,610 kgs of heroin during 2020.

The police would seek permission from the court to detain the suspects for seven days. They were to be produced in the Horana Magistrate’s court, the DIG said.

He said that Sri Lanka had obtained Interpol ‘Red Notice’ on 24 persons, mostly drug dealers. One of them died recently.

Wednesday’s arrest of soldiers involved in the heroin trade took place amidst the ongoing investigations into some members of the elite Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) dealing in narcotics. Over a dozen of its personnel are in remand pending investigations.

During yesterday’s briefing DIG Rohana asserted that the arrested soldier and the deserter had been middlemen and investigations were underway to ascertain their involvement.



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U.S. Ambassador to UN Agencies in Rome Cindy McCain to visit Lanka

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Colombo, September 23, 2022: United States Permanent Representative to the UN Food and Agriculture Agencies in Rome Ambassador Cindy McCain will visit Sri Lanka from September 25-28 to highlight U.S. food assistance programs in Sri Lanka and reinforce the U.S. commitment and lasting partnership with the island nation.

In addition to meeting with senior government officials and aid organizations in Colombo, Ambassador McCain will join U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung to travel to Central Province to visit schools, agricultural research facilities, and community organizations and meet with recipients and implementers of relief provided through U.S. government-funded humanitarian assistance programs.

The United States is the single largest country donor to the three United Nations food and agriculture agencies, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the World Food Program (WFP).  U.S.-funded UN projects showcase how the U.S. government, the UN Food and Agriculture Agencies, and the government of Sri Lanka collaborate to reduce food insecurity and advance humanitarian relief, livelihood protection, and agriculture-led economic growth, especially at this critical time of increased global hunger.

The United States has provided partnership and assistance to the people and government of Sri Lanka for more than 70 years.  Since June, Ambassador Chung has overseen the announcement of nearly $240 million in new U.S. government assistance to Sri Lanka, including U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Samantha Power’s September 2022 announcements of an additional $40 million to provide Sri Lankan farmers with fertilizer and $20 million to meet immediate humanitarian needs in the country.

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President urges SL diaspora in the UK to invest in their motherland

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By Sujeeva Nivunhella
reporting from London

President Ranil Wickremesinghe last week urged the Sri Lanka diaspora in the United Kingdom to invest in Sri Lanka projects to revive the economy. Addressing a gathering at the Sri Lanka High Commission in London, he said that he is proud that the British Sri Lankan community for making a mark in every field of the UK economy such as trading, services, business, and requested them to come together as Sri Lankans and people of Sri Lankan origin to help build the motherland.

The President added that Sri Lanka is looking at transforming its economy to a competitive export-oriented one to meet the current challenges and build social systems and modernize the education system.

He remarked on the special affection Queen Elizabeth II had towards Sri Lanka as the Head of the Commonwealth and the longest serving Head of State of Ceylon for 20 years prior to the nation becoming a Republic and stated that her passing is the end of an era.

The president, first lady and party arrived in London on Sept. 17 via Dubai by an Emirates flight to attend the State Funeral Service of Queen Elizabeth II.They were received at the Heathrow airport by High Commissioner Saroja Sirisena and were driven to the Intercontinental Hotel in Park Lane, London where they stayed.

On Sunday (Sept. 18), the President accompanied by the First Lady and High Commissioner attended the Lying-in-State of the late Queen at the Palace of Westminster which was followed by a Reception hosted by His Majesty King Charles III at Buckingham Palace.The President and the First Lady attended the State Funeral Service held at the Westminster Abbey on Monday (Sept. 19).  On the same day, he signed the Book of Condolence. The Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs James Cleverly MP hosted a reception for the visiting world leaders at Church House.

On 20th September, the President met the Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Patricia Scotland QC. They discussed Sri Lanka’s engagement with the Commonwealth Secretariat and matters of mutual interest. He also visited the London Buddhist Vihara during which Ven Dr Bogoda Seelawimala, Chief Incumbent of the Vihara and the Chief Sanga Nayaka of Great Britain invoked blessings on the President and the people of Sri Lanka.

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Families countrywide facing malnutrition, says Cardinal

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By Norman Palihawadane

Colombo Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith has warned that the prevailing economic crisis and increasing unemployment and food prices are accelerating malnutrition among hundred thousands of families countrywide.

Addressing a ceremony at the annual get-together of the Archdiocesan Family Apostolate Service held at St Peter’s College Auditorium in Colombo, the Archbishop said that it was a shame that responsible local officials keep denying the prevailing status quo when world humanitarian organizations such as UNICEF continue to warn of the increasing malnutrition levels among children.

Many international organizations have pointed out that malnutrition in Sri Lanka was increasing at an alarming rate but the authorities responsible are hiding the truth and go to the extent of rejecting such reports.

“If they reject the reports of international organizations, then it is their paramount duty of conduct proper surveys to understand the situation. It is no secret that large numbers of Lankan families are starving due to the high prices of food. According to the UNICEF more than six million people consume only a single meal a day. It is so unfortunate that Health Ministry officials who spend their times in the air conditioned rooms in Colombo do not know the plight of the poor in rural areas,” the Cardinal said.He said that 225 MPs were concerned only of their well-being while continuing to ignore the actual and pressing issues of people.

“This country is in dire situation today mainly due to inefficient and corrupt political leaders. It is sad that these so-called people’s representatives are not concerned of the situation of people who are experiencing the worst ever economic and political crisis this country has ever faced,” the Cardinal said.

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