Sri Lankan drug lord held in Tamil Nadu - while playing cricket

May 6th, 2008 - 9:47 pm ICT by admin  

By M.R. Narayan Swamy
New Delhi, May 6 (IANS) One of Sri Lanka’s biggest drug lords has been finally arrested in Tamil Nadu after Indian authorities, who had been pursuing him for years, nabbed him while he was playing his favourite game - cricket. Indian official sources are describing the Narcotics Control Bureau’s (NCB) arrest of K. Gunasekaran, 42, as a major development and say it is sure to hit the flow of heroin from Pakistan to Sri Lanka.

Guna, as he was widely known, was sought in Sri Lanka, where he reportedly enjoyed close ties with “political bigwigs”, links that helped him establish a network to supply drugs to Colombo and other places.

Sri Lankan authorities questioned him after a bomb attack blamed on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in December 1999 killed 26 people and partially blinded then president Chandrika Kumaratunga. The authorities wanted to know if he had links with the LTTE.

Guna continued to operate in Sri Lanka but fled to India in 2004. He settled down in Tamil Nadu, ostensibly to merge with the large community of Sri Lankan Tamils in the sprawling state.

He came on a false Sri Lankan passport, which identified him as Prem Kumar. This helped him carry on his narcotics business - remaining a step ahead of the Indian authorities.

After his arrest - which officials say took place Monday in Chennai but which some accounts say may have taken place in Sivaganga town in Tamil Nadu - Guna reportedly told his interrogators that he was very much into smuggling high grade heroin from Pakistan to Sri Lanka for two decades.

According to officials here, a kilo of heroin in India can fetch around Rs.500,000. In Colombo, the same quantity is sold for Rs.3-4 million Sri Lankan rupees. Guna told Indian officials that there were large numbers of heroin addicts in Colombo.

Guna also told his interrogators that since Hindi and Urdu were foreign to him, he employed well-paid couriers to fetch drugs from Pakistan via northern India. He then supervised their smuggling to Sri Lanka by sea.

Using mobile telephones, Guna oversaw a huge network in Sri Lanka whose members - if he is to be believed - enjoyed patronage from a section of the political establishment.

Two years ago, three of Guna’s associates were arrested in Chennai while smuggling heroin in a cooking gas cylinder.

As the hunt for him then mounted in India, Guna shifted to Goa. But he returned to Tamil Nadu.

Guna was planning to settle down in India, preferably in Tamil Nadu, and made a shady part of Sivaganga his operational base.

His family - which lived in Sri Lanka, and he reportedly has two wives - made occasional trips to Tamil Nadu to meet him.

Once NCB officials managed to track down Guna, they kept him under watch. One day, as he played cricket, detectives nabbed him - when he least expected to be arrested.

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