Tri Forces play active role in the fight against drugs

March 08, 2019

The Tri Forces' contribution in the fight to eradicate illegal drugs from the country is enormous. The "Mathin Nidhahas Ratak' (A country free of drugs) programme which was born out of a conceptual notion of the President aimed at ridding the country of this dangerous menace has seen desirable results with law enforcement agencies making headway into confiscating large quantities of drugs and arresting many involved in this illegal activity in various forms in recent times.

The Tri Forces have extended their full support and are actively working in close corporation with the Presidential Task Force, Police, Special Task Force, Excise Department and other relevant agencies in this national endevour.

A special press briefing was held at the Ministry of Defence Media Centre in Colombo this morning (08 March) presided by the Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne to educate the media on the military involvement in the fight against illegal drugs and drug eradication in the country. The tri Forces Commanders, Army Commander, Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake, Navy Commander, Vice Admiral Piyal De Silva and Air Force Commander, Air Marshal Kapila Jayampathy who were also present at the occasion elaborated on the role played by their respective forces in this regard. Military Spokesman Brigadier Sumith Atapattu was also associated with the press briefing.

The Army, as the "Rata Rakina Jathiya" (Defenders of the country) has rendered active assistance upon request to carry out drug related operations to the Police and other related agencies. The Army conducts educative awareness programmes and assist to recruit volunteers to drug prevention committees at village and regional levels.

Exchanging intelligence gathered from its vast network with other line agencies is another form of assistance provided by the Army that had added strength to this programme. It has also extended willingness to assist to rehabilitate drug addicts at its Kandalkadu and Senapura rehabilitation centres.

Operations launched by the Navy to stop the influx of drugs into the country by sea has seen a large amount of such dangerous substance being confiscated in recent years. Last year alone Navy has been successful in confiscating more than 2100 kg of Kerala Cannabis, popularly known as KG during 41 instances. its operations have managed to recover over 680kg of KG since the beginning of this year. A large amount of drugs finds their way into the country in an organized manner often in the guise of involving in fishing activities.

Naval patrols over the maritime domain of the country has been successful in apprehending large quantities of dangerous drugs and persons involved in this activity. In 2017 alone 168 persons were arrested by the Navy while transporting drugs while 88 were arrested last year. So far 29 persons have been arrested by the Navy in the current year. Awareness programmes are also conducted by the Navy at schools and places of religious worship with the intention of curbing the demand for such dangerous substances. Navy's special ten-day training programme in tackling drug operations has shown good results. Many countries have also shown interest in acquiring this training. The assistance of the Combined Task Force based in Bahrain which plays an important role in curbing drug trafficking in the "Southern Route" on the regional seas is also forthcoming to the country.

Information collected through air reconnaissance flights operated by the Air Force has assisted law enforcement personnel to penetrate dense jungles and destroy large areas of Cannabis cultivations. Such operations which commenced in 2015 utilize Y-12, Beechcraft and Bell 212 helicopters to survey large areas of land and sea for tracking suspected movements, Cannabis plantations and other such illegal activities. The Air Force also use drones in its operations. During the past three years, the Air Force has made over 750 flying hours of reconnaissance flights. And this year already 100 flying hours have been spent on such operations. During the last two years Air Force has been able to find 199 Cannabis plantations. And it has already found 40 plantations this year.

The combined efforts of the Tri Forces, Police, STF, Excise Department, Customs Department and other state agencies in the anti-drug war have brought about good results. It is the duty of every law abiding citizen of this country to work towards the wellbeing of the people and development of the country. The collective effort of all to eradicate the threat posed by dangerous drugs will not only save lives and strengthen the fabric of the society but will also give a positive message to the rest of the world on how to face national challenges and rise as a nation.