Sri Lanka detains nearly 15,000 in drug crackdown

Sri Lanka detains nearly 15,000 in drug crackdown

Sri Lanka detains nearly 15,000 in drug crackdown

Sri Lankan police announced the arrests of nearly 15,000 people after a week-long military-backed anti-narcotics blitz, a crackdown that rights activists have condemned.

According to police, the operation, codenamed “Yuktiya” or “Justice,” resulted in the recovery of nearly 440 kilogrammes (970 pounds) of narcotics, including 272 kilogrammes of cannabis, 35 kilogrammes of hashish, and nine kilogrammes of heroin.

Authorities believe the Indian Ocean island is being utilised as a transit site for narcotics trafficking.

According to a police statement, 13,666 suspects were arrested, and roughly 1,100 addicts were imprisoned and sent to a military-run facility for mandatory rehabilitation.

Local media showed footage of police and troops searching residences in the city and elsewhere with sniffing dogs.

Police said raids will pause for the Christmas holidays as officers needed to be deployed on security-related duties, but will resume after Tuesday, which is a Buddhist holiday.

Human rights lawyer Hejaaz Hizbullah said the police raids were illegal as they were conducted without search warrants and urged victims to get the details of officers to initiate legal action later.

Rights activist Ambika Satkunanathan posted on social media that the searches were not based on evidence but were “targeting only poor areas”.

The police were arresting drug users and small-time dealers but “not focusing on large-scale traffickers”, she added.

Sri Lanka’s biggest drug haul by weight was in December 2016, when police seized 800 kilograms of cocaine.