Sri Lanka police destroy record seizure of cocaine

AP News
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Posted: Jan 15, 2018 5:09 AM
Sri Lanka police destroy record seizure of cocaine

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lankan authorities on Monday publicly destroyed more than 900 kilograms of cocaine that was the country's largest single seizure of the illegal drug.

The public destruction of the drugs haul was the first such program in Sri Lanka as authorities seek to deter smugglers from using the Indian Ocean island nation as a transit point for drug distribution in the region.

Police officers first liquefied the cocaine, which was packed in 30 sacks in front of a magistrate at a pre-processing facility of a cement firm outside the capital Colombo. It was then taken to be disposed in a cement kiln north of the capital.

The 928 kilograms (2,045 pounds) of cocaine was seized in 2016 at Sri Lanka's main sea port following a tip off. The cocaine was concealed in a container carrying timber on a ship sailing from Ecuador and bound for India.

Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said the drugs were not meant for Sri Lanka and that no suspects were found.

President Maithripala Sirisena and other top officers attended Monday's event.

Sri Lanka's Law and Order minister Sagala Rathnayaka said Sri Lanka "is being used as a transit point" by drug dealers, although some of the drugs may come into the country.

Rathnayaka said publicly destroying the drugs would send a message that "we are very serious about the zero tolerance policy."