Home Contact Us
Search :

Sri Lanka - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#1106, 22 August 2003
Drug-trafficking and Abuse in Sri Lanka
N Manoharan
Research Officer, IPCS

Drug-trafficking and drug abuse is the major menace in Sri Lanka, next only to the ethnic crisis. This menace is evident from the fact that, according to the official figures, there are nearly 50,000 drug addicts in the island. The unofficial statistics could be double or treble the official ones. Estimated demand for heroin is around 720 kg per year costing US $ 8 mn annuallyâ€ a drain on foreign exchange, as the drug only comes from outside its borders. About SL Rs. 25 million is being spent annually by the government, to provide free treatment and rehabilitation services for drug users. The expenditure by Department of Prisons for correctional services of drug-related offences, mental and physical problems, disruption of education and other costs incurred by the immediate family members of drug users is not taken into account.  The prevalence of high suicide rates and drug addiction also has its costs.

The common drugs abused in the island are heroin and cannabis. The use of cocaine and therapeutic drugs like diazepam benzodiazepines (Flunitrazepam, Diazepam, Rohypnol, Valium), methaqulone (Mandrax), codeine, methadone and amphetamines is also common. The use of opium is insignificant. Heroin was first introduced into the country in 1981 through the “hippie” tourists. Initially confined to tourists, the consumption of heroin gradually spread to the local population, making the island a demand driven rather than a supply driven market in the 1980s. Due to its proximity to ‘Golden Triangle’ and ‘Golden Crescent’, Sri Lanka had become a major transit point for heroin to Europe and other Western countries on an organized scale. Heroin is routed via Sri Lanka from Pakistan or India on a big scale by sea by containers and mechanized fishing craft. This sea route takes two forms: from Pakistan to Mumbai (facilitated by underworld dons in the city), then to Tuticorin or Rameshwaram and then to Sri Lanka by sea; on from Pakistan to southern India via the land route through Jaisalmer or Barmer and then by sea to Sri Lanka. A considerable amount of drugs also come from Southeast Asia transiting the Indian sub-continent. Small scale smuggling is also done by couriers by air. Some amount of drug influx takes place through diplomatic sources concealed in their baggage but the veracity of such reports is not fully established.

            This brings us to the important question of linkage between Tamil militancy and drug-trafficking in the island. Terrorist groups are increasingly turning to the drugs trade to finance their activities. In the region extending from Southeast Asia to Central Asia a mutually beneficially relationships has developed between drug-traffickers and terrorist groups. While drug-traffickers benefit from the terrorists’ military skills, weapons supply and access to clandestine organisations, the terrorists gain a source of revenue and expertise in illicit transfer and laundering of the proceeds from illicit transactions. The involvement of the LTTE in the drugs trade is not officially established, but this does not mean that the militant organisation can be absolved of this linkage. The LTTE may not involve itself directly in the trade to avoid bad publicity. At the same time, the huge sums of money available from drug profits cannot be ignored by the outfit. The LTTE refuses any connection with the drugs trade, but its cadres and sympathizers are arrested in this regard the world over? Why has there been a sudden upsurge of drugs flow in the island since the late 1980s? What is the connection between Myanmarese training offers and the drug courier services of the Tigers? This aspect requires separate analysis.

            But what is certain is that the ethnic crisis has increased the amount of drugs flow and abuse in the island. Apart from insurgency, the drug mafia – law enforcers nexus has also been responsible for the spread of drugs and their abuse in the island. The drug control activities of the government include the National Dangerous Drugs Control Board under the Ministry of Defence and Police Narcotics Bureau under the Ministry of Interior. The coordination between these two nodal bodies and various other governmental agencies is not effective. Sri Lanka is yet to bring about domestic legislation to give effect to the Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961, the Convention on Psychotropic Substances, 1971, and the UN Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, 1988 to which it is a signatory. These apart, effective drug prevention activities involve proper organisation and creation of awareness among the common people. The mass media must also be used for this purpose.           

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary

D Suba Chandran
Across the Durand Line: Who is in Control Now? Will That Change?
Taliban Talks and the Four Horsemen: Between Peace and Apocalypse
Pakistan: Talks about Talks with the Taliban, Again
Dateline Islamabad

Salma Malik
Pakistan and TTP: Dialogue or Military Action?
The Musharraf Trial & Beyond

Dateline Kabul

Mariam Safi
Afghanistan, US and the Peace Process: A Deal with the Taliban in 2014?
Dhaka Discourse

Prof Delwar Hossain
Bangladesh: Domestic Politics and External Actors
Bangladesh Post Elections 2014: Redefining Domestic Politics?

Eagle Eye

Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
US in Asia: A 'Non-Alignment' Strategy?
Indo-US Strategic Partnership Post Khobragade: The Long Shadow
East Asia Compass

Dr Sandip Mishra
North Korean Peace Gestures and Inter-Korea Relations
Japan: Implications of Indiscriminate Assertiveness
China, Japan, Korea and the US: Region at Crossroads

Himalayan Frontier

Pramod Jaiswal
Chinese Inroads to Nepal
Constituent Assembly-II: Rifts Emerging
Nepal: The Crisis over Proportional Representation and the RPP Divide
Maritime Matters

Vijay Sakhuja
Increasing Maritime Competition: IORA, IONS, Milan and the Indian Ocean Networks
China in the Indian Ocean: Deep Sea Forays
Iran Navy: Developing Long Sea Legs

Middle Kingdom

DS Rajan
China in the Indian Ocean: Competing Priorities
China-Japan Friction: How can India Respond?
Nuke Street

Amb Sheelkant Sharma
Nuclear Security Summit 2014 and the NTI Index
Nuclear Power: An Annual Report Card

Red Affairs

Bibhu Prasad
Maoists in the Northeast: Reality and Myth-Making
Surrender of Gudsa Usendi: Ominous beginning for the Naxals?
South Asian Dialectic

PR Chari
Federalism: Centre as Coordinator and Adjudicator
Limits of Federalism

Spotlight West Asia

Amb Ranjit Gupta
Saudi Arabia-US Estrangement: Implications for the Indian Subcontinent
Syria Today: Is Regime Change the Answer?
The Arab World: Trying Times Ahead
Strategic Space

Manpreet Sethi
US, China and the South Asian Nuclear Construct
Responding to Pakistan’s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: A Strategy for India

The Strategist

Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Strategic Non-Nuclear Weapons: An Essential Consort to a Doctrine of No First Use

OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


Browse by Publications

Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Naxalite Violence 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
Ebola: Concerns for India

Left-wing Extremism 2013: The Threat Continues

Maldives 2013: End of Political Stalemate

CHOGM, India and Sri Lanka: New Delhi’s Missed Opportunities

Sri Lanka: TNA in the Northern Province

Presidential Elections in Maldives: A Pre-Poll Analysis

Indian Mujahideen: After Yasin Bhatkal's Arrest

India and the Peace Process in Sri Lanka: So Close, Yet So Far

Sri Lanka and the 13th Amendment: The Arithmetic of ‘Plus’ and ‘Minus’

Sri Lanka and the 13th Amendment: Reconciling Differing Viewpoints

Naxal Violence: What should be Done to Counter?

Sri Lanka: Third UNHRC Resolution and India’s Dilemma

Hyderabad Terror Attacks: Road-blocks in the National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC)

Maldives: GMR, Nexbis and the Tale of Two Ousters

Maldives: Indian Investments vis-a-vis Chinese Footprints

Mahinda Rajapaksa’s India Visit: Taking the Ties Forward

Sri Lanka: 25 Years After the IPKF

IPCS Debate: The UNHRC Resolution on Sri Lanka

Devolution in Sri Lanka: The Latest Take

‘Taming the Tigers’: Reintegration of Surrendered LTTE Cadres

Fishing in Troubled Waters: Indian Fishermen and India-Sri Lanka Relations

Alternative Strategies for Indo-Sri Lankan Relations: Passenger Ferry Service

Sri Lanka: UN Panel and Sovereignty Issues

Sri Lanka: One Year after the War, Where is Ethnic Reconciliation?

Sri Lanka: Why Sustain the ‘State of Exception’?

Y! MyWeb
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2014
 January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September
 2013  2012  2011  2010  2009  2008  2007  2006
 2005  2004  2003  2002  2001  2000  1999  1998

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map | IPCS Email
B 7/3 Lower Ground Floor, Safdarjung Enclave, New Delhi 110029, INDIA.
Tel: 91-11-4100 1900, 4165 2556, 4165 2557, 4165 2558, 4165 2559 Fax: (91-11) 41652560
© Copyright 2014, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.
        Web Design by http://www.indiainternets.com