20 October, 2017

WikiLeaks: Mervin Silava Is A Drug Kingpin Patron Chief

By Colombo Telegraph

kingpin patron chief and the son

A leaked US embassy cable reviled “drug kingpins in Sri Lanka have political patrons in the government”.  “Chief among them Dr. Mervin Silva, a Member of Parliament and the Minister of Labor” the cable further said. The Colombo Telegraph found the cable from the Wikileaks database.

The remarks by Washington’s embassy to Sri Lanka, are revealed by the Wikileaks leaked cable. The cable was classified as “ CONFIDENTIAL” by ambassador Patricia A. Butenis.

In the cable, written on February 2010, under the sub-heading “SRI LANKA NABS DRUG TRAFFICKERS”  the ambassador wrote that “ the recent arrest of narcotics traffickers and heroin seizures paint a disturbing picture. The police assessment that heroin trade is pre-dominatly carried out by the Muslim

suspected of trafficking the drug “ecstasy”

community is troubling because of illicit network’s destabilizing effects. The February 18 arrest in the Muslim – dominated northwestern region of a Muslim man from an internally displaced persons’ camp suggests the potential for criminal exploitation of a vulnerable community.

The cable further says  “ according to a former Sri Lankan security services official, drug kingpins in Sri Lanka have political patrons in the government, chief among them Dr. Mervin Silva, a Member of Parliament and the Minister of Labor. His son, Malaka Silva, is suspected of trafficking the drug “ecstasy” in Colombo.

Read the full cable below;

C O N F I D E N T I A L COLOMBO 000134

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR INL AND SCA/INSB

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/23/2020
TAGS: APER AORC ECON KUNR UN CE
SUBJECT: SRI LANKA NABS DRUG TRAFFICKERS

REF: 09 COLOMBO 1077

Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Valerie Fowler, Reasons 1.4 (B)
and (D).

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Media is reporting and contacts confirm
that Sri Lankan Police and Customs officials have seized over
40 kilos of heroin in the past week in three different drug
busts.  On February 15, Customs officials reported they had
arrested two Pakistani nationals with 83 packets of heroin
weighing 720 grams and worth nearly USD 30,000 at Colombo's
international airport.  On February 18, Police in the Mannar
district in northwestern Sri Lanka seized 30.6 kilos of
heroin with an estimated street value of USD
870,000-$1,600,000.  And on February 19, a Maldivian and Sri
Lankan couple were arrested for possession of 9 kilos of
heroin.  Heroin use in Sri Lanka remains low, indicating Sri
Lanka remains a key transit hub for heroin trafficking in
South Asia.  END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) The February 15 report that Sri Lankan Customs
officials had arrested two Pakistani nationals with 83
packets of heroin worth nearly USD 30,000 may demonstrate
ongoing regional cooperation in drug interdiction as Customs
may have been tipped off by Pakistani counterparts.
According to sources, the passports of the accused show
multiple previous entries and exits in Sri Lanka, suggesting
this may not be the first time the suspects had smuggled
drugs into the country.  They traveled via Qatar, since
officials more carefully scrutinize travelers arriving from
Pakistan than from the Gulf States.  The drug packets were
found hidden in the suspects' abdomen and rectum.

3. (SBU) The dramatic seizure of 30.6 kilos of heroin on
February 18 in the Mannar district in northwestern Sri Lanka
was the largest drugs seizure in the recent past.  The drugs
are estimated to have a street value of between USD 870,000
and 1,600,000.  Police believe the heroin crossed the Palk
Strait by boat into Sri Lanka from India.  Local contacts
confirm that the Mannar coast is an important transshipment
point for narcotics traffickers.  The interdicted van only
had a driver with a mobile phone with one Colombo-based
telephone number in it, although other suspects are reported
to have fled the scene.  Police are investigating further.
The sheer volume of the bust indicates the heroin is bound
for a "big time dealer" in the country before being forwarded
to other destinations, perhaps the Maldives or Europe.

4. (SBU) On Febuary 19, the Colombo Narcotics Bureau
apprehended two suspects - a Maldivian woman and her Sri
Lankan husband - for possession of 9 kilos of heroin.  While
the media is reporting the two have confessed, no further
information is currently available.  As noted in Reftel, drug
use in Sri Lanka remains low by global standards (with an
estimated 55,000 users), and the government generally works
well with regional and USG partners to control illegal
substances.  However, Sri Lanka remains a key transit hub for
heroin trafficking in South Asia.

5. (C) According to a former Sri Lankan security services
official, drug kingpins in Sri Lanka have political patrons
in the government, chief among them Dr. Mervyn Silva, a
Member of Parliament and the Minister of Labor.  His son,
Malika Silva, is suspected of trafficking the drug "ecstasy"
in Colombo nightclubs.

6. (SBU) COMMENT: The recent arrests of narcotics traffickers
and heroin seizures paint a disturbing picture.  The police
assessment that heroin trade is pre-dominantly carried out by
the Muslim community is troubling because of the illicit
network's destabilizing effects.  The February 18 arrest in
the Muslim-dominated northwestern region of a Muslim man from
an internally displaced persons' camp suggests the potential
for criminal exploitation of a vulnerable community.
BUTENIS
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