Thursday, 27 June 2002  
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Need to net the drug sharks

The increasing deviousness and guile of the local drug smuggler was brought home to us recently when one such operative was found to have hidden over 60 condoms containing hard drugs in his bowels. The authorities had apparently obtained the drug haul by administering laxatives to their prisoner.

This tragi-comedy, among other things, illustrates the degree to which the hard drug trade in this country is continuing to thrive. There is a huge demand for the lethal commodity; hence the continuing supply, on what seems to be, an ascending scale. The inescapable conclusion is that we have made very little headway in controlling the drug scourge over the years.

The Government's concern over this thriving evil was conveyed on Tuesday, International Day Against Drug Abuse, by Minister for the Interior John Amaratunga, who declared open a rehabilitation centre for drug offenders, at Boossa. He underlined the need to nab drug kingpins and other major operatives to make some headway in tackling the problem of hard drug abuse.

This is where the rub is. The majority of drug traffickers who have been held so far are minor operatives and are by no means the linchpins in the sinister business. As long as these major figures continue to be at large, little progress will be made in containing the dreaded scourge.

There is reason to believe that some of these live wires in the trafficking of drugs are influential and powerful persons. Hence the difficulty in crippling the operation. However, once these principal operatives are brought to justice, there is every likelihood of the spectre of drug abuse receding from our midst. We, therefore, call on the law enforcers to come down hard on the kingpins in the trafficking and sale of hard drugs.

We endorse the State's current rehabilitation approach towards hard drug abusers. Very often, minor operatives in drug peddling turn out to be drug addicts themselves. Social and economic pressures drive the majority of these victims to drug abuse. It is the latter who are usually netted by the authorities while the sharks continue with the deadly business.

These minor operatives constitute a substantial percentage of our prisoners and never really outgrow their suicidal habit because of the continued availability of drugs in same prisons. Besides they are inducted into worse evils by their older companions in prison. Admitting these young drug offenders to rehabilitation centres, then, is the correct thing to do. Treating these victims humanely, is one way of weaning them away from the tentacles of drug abuse. Social acceptance of these offenders is bound to open for them, new vistas in life.

In view of the global nature of drug trafficking, closer cooperation needs to be forged among States to put an end to the drug menace. Law and order measures, launched in unison, are bound to yield positive results rather than isolated, unilateral measures.

Affno

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