Asia’s largest haul of cocaine destroyed President Sirisena oversees process

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By 2018-01-16

Drug enforcement authorities yesterday (15), destroyed the largest-ever cocaine haul that was seized in Asia at a location in the Puttalam area, a Police Spokesman told Ceylon Today.

The powdered cocaine was first turned into liquid at the Board of Investment premises in Katunayake in the presence of President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe before being taken away to be destroyed.

The entire operation was witnessed by the Colombo Chief Magistrate, Lal Ranasinghe Bandara.

The cocaine, which was in large blocks was broken up into smaller pieces, placed in large containers of water and then liquidized.

The liquid was then transported to Puttalam, where it was heated and destroyed.

The haul, estimated at a value of Rs 16 billion was found at the Colombo Port on board a Colombian ship that was heading from Ecuador to the Western Indian Port of Mundra in December 2016.

The 928 kilogrammes of cocaine – described as being of high quality – was seized after the Sri Lankan Police Narcotics Bureau received a tip off about the shipment. The vessel was brought into Sri Lankan waters and searched and the cocaine was found concealed in a container filled with timber.

Last year, Reuters reported that international cocaine smugglers are increasingly turning to Sri Lanka as a transit hub in Asia after authorities made a series of seizures of the drug, some smuggled in containers of sugar from Brazil.

They reported that Sri Lanka's geographic location as well as the fact that containers are not checked has made it easy to trans-ship drugs.

The authorities here also say that there is no market for high-grade cocaine in Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan Customs have seized six shipments of high-purity South American cocaine in the past 14 months, including Asia's largest-ever haul of the drug in December, at the Colombo Port.

"Sri Lanka is becoming a hub for cocaine as it is a risk-free location with less legal restrictions," a top Police official who is aware of the investigations into the smuggling told Reuters.

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