The scourge of narcotic drugs has taken centre stage once again with media reports that the drug called ICE has even spread to Schools. As a result the bags of schoolchildren in several schools are being regularly searched at times with the assistance of sniffer dogs.
The Education Ministry has announced that they will be carrying out programmes in 102 divisions across the country to address this issue on January 2023. While this is welcome and needs to be done, the larger question that arises is why such steps have to be taken after the drugs reach the street rather than attempt to cut off the supply of drugs at the source itself.
The narcotic trail may be described as follows in such order, namely, source/supplier, distributor, consumer/addict, rehabilitation. It should be obvious to anyone that cutting off the supply of drugs at its source is way easier than trying to prevent the distribution among users.
In Sri Lanka narcotics can only be smuggled in through the Colombo Port or the Katunayake International Airport and such smuggling should not be difficult to control through stringent monitoring and sniffer dogs.
One of the unofficial routes through which the narcotics smuggling is done seems to be through the coastline north of Colombo right up to Mannar. After the end of the armed conflict in 2009 there has also been an influx of drugs into the Northern Province presumably through the coastline in the North.
The southern coastline is much less likely to see the smuggling of narcotics although two consignments of drugs were detected in two fish crafts by a joint operation in which officers of the Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) and Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) detected a large quantity of narcotics on board a multi day fishing craft which they intercepted off the southern coast of Sri Lanka on Wednesday.
Media reports say a second multi day vessel that was accompanying the vessel carrying the narcotics was also taken into custody.
The previous day it was reported that drug hauls were detected in Mulleriyawa, at the Customs and in Colombo as well.
The question that begs to be answered is why after detecting these quantities of narcotics the importer or smuggler has not been nabbed. It is not rocket science that the Police have only to work backwards from the point of detection to identify the importer/smuggler of the drugs.
It is inconceivable that a country that prides itself in defeating a ruthless terrorist group cannot put an end to this menace by bringing before the law the king pins in the drug racket.
According to former Minister Wimal Weerawansa there are only ten to twelve key drug smugglers in the coutry. Having been close to the upper echelons of power for several years his knowledge of these matters must have been picked up from the Law enforcement authorities and are likely to be close to the truth.
There is also a great deal of intelligence relating to drug trafficking being shared among various United Nations and other regional bodies. The country can easily benefit from such pooling of resources too.
All this means that for an experienced and highly skilled set of law enforcement officials busting the narcotics smuggling ring should be a straight forward operation. There is only one thing that can be holding back such efforts and that is corruption—the root of most of the country’s ills.
In other countries too this happens due to the stakes being very high.
The impact of drug abuse has now gone beyond the mere drug abuser and has an impact on even unconnected segments of society. The tragic motor vehicle accident that took place in Kollupitiya last week caused the death of an innocent three wheel driver leaving his family destitute is a case in point.
According to media reports the car was driven recklessly by an individual who was coming from a nightclub in Bambalapitiya.
Have the Police probed whether the driver had consumed drugs at the nightclub? With the spread of the sleazy side of night life in the country could the abuse of narcotic drugs increase further.
The time for action is now.
Disclaimer: Spread of narcotics fuelled by corruption - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Latheefarook.com point-of-view