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Sunday, 28 September 2008

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Children saved from the jaws of drug dealers



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For several months parents of schoolchildren at Katubedde and Moratuwa were worried about the behaviour of their children. Something told them that the children were getting hooked on drugs since lately. But they had no inkling about from where they obtained these potent drugs for that matter, as the whole thing was shrouded in secrecy.

They had no way of checking that either from local boutiques where people gossip. Parents also know the boutiques are the nests of gossip where people talk openly.

However, people are a bit tight lipped discussing about drugs due to fear of reprisals by drug peddlers in their respective areas. People know the drug dealers were a vicious lot bent on taking revenge. So the option available to most parents were to petition the Excise Department to crack down on the drug menace in their areas.

Soon it became crystal clear to parents that schoolchildren and university students had become victims of drugs.

The children were dependant on ganja and heroin that have pervaded their areas. Parents were alarmed and shocked about the plight of their children, but were helpless at the same time.

They noticed that children showed signs of dizziness and intoxication when they returned home from school. The children often wobbled and trembled as if they had caught a bout of flu. They also could not concentrate on their studies as before. The children were often retired and they retired to bed early and woke up late.

Meanwhile several parents petitioned the Commissioner General of Excise, D.G.M.V. Hapuarachchi highlighting the plight of their children.

They wanted him to take stern action to weed out the drug menace in the katubedde-Moratuwa areas. The parents alleged that toffees (guli) were sold to schoolchildren that contained ganja (cannabis-sativa) a destructive and a potent drug. The drug peddlers too knew that schoolchildren get hooked on it easily.

The children too liked it because they got a kick out of it munching those toffees. The Commissioner General of Excise, Hapuarachchi after perusing several petitions instructed the OIC, Excise Station at Kesbewa, Chief Inspector Rosman Fernando to investigate the petitions and to take appropriate action.

OIC Rosman Fernando detailed a phalanx of Excise officers including Inspector Chanaka Nanayakkara, Sergeant Sumanapala, Excise Guard Bandara, Thenuwara, Sameera, Kosala, Rathna and driver Jayantha to set up a trap and to apprehend suspects involved in the racket.

The Excise men disguised as ordinary civilians proceeded to Katubedde on a spying mission to gather information. Through their network of informants they learnt that a trader was behind the racket. His modus operandi was to sell "Madhana Modhaka guli" toffees to a coterie of persons at Katubedde. Most of them were drug peddlers who in turn sold them to schoolchildren. The trader was cautious not to sell them to outsiders whom he suspected as undercover Police or as Excise agents. The trader had a code word for the toffees. Drug peddlers had to demand the Madhana Modaka toffees by saying, "a twenty five piece." It was then that he dug his fingers into a bowl and dished out the "Madhana-Modaka Guli" to prospective customers.

After gathering sufficient evidence, the Excise officers laid an ambush at Katubedde, in close proximity to the boutique and kept an eye on the boutique. It was around noon, when they noticed a known drug dealer approaching the boutique. They noticed the guy purchasing toffees and stuffing them into his pocket.While on his way from the boutique, the man was searched by Excise officers who found several toffees in his pocket.

They tasted the toffees and found it to contain the ganja ingredient. Thereafter they raided the boutique and found five gungy bags containing 2950 of "Madhana-Modhaka Guli similar to the ones found in the trouser pocket of the drug dealer.

The boutique keeper was arrested along with the "guli" and was produced before the Moratuwa Magistrate who imposed a fine of Rs 30,000 after he pleaded guilty to the charges. According to Excise Inspector, Chanaka Nanayakkara, the Commissioner of Ayurveda can authorise an indigenous Ayurveda doctor to possess a limited quantity of ganja for medicinal purposes.

Some indigenous doctors under the umbrage of preparing medicine misuse them for other purposes. Laymen, however, are not authorised to possess ganja even in small quantities, he said. Two years ago the Cental Anti-Vice Striking Force (CAVSF) raided an eight acre cannabis sativa (ganja) plantation located at Udawalave and uprooted more than 25,000 plants of cannabis sativa (ganja) worth Rs. 8 million and set them on fire. Police arrested three suspects following the raid.

 

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