Two Maldivian men have been arrested in Colombo, Sri Lanka with over 1.2 kilograms of heroin.
According to Sri Lankan media, the pair, aged-28 and 30, respectively, were arrested from a hotel in Colombo’s Bambalapitiya district in the late night hours of April 22.
The Sri Lankan police conducted the raid based on intelligence information received by the National Narcotic Bureau, in collaboration with Maldivian and Pakistani authorities, local media report.
The pair are believed to be part of a wider drug network operating in Maldives, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
Maldives Police Services confirmed that Sri Lankan authorities had informed the service of the arrest.
“We have been informed and we are cooperating with Sri Lankan authorities in the investigation,” a police spokesman said, refusing to reveal further details.
In March, a Maldivian couple was arrested on charges of drug trafficking after being caught attempting to smuggle over 3 kilograms of heroin through Katunayaka airport, Colombo. Sri Lankan media also reported that the pair’s interrogation had led to the arrest of other two Maldivians and three Sri Lankans, one of which includes the alleged ringleader.
The country of origin for the drugs remains unclear in both cases.
According to a 2012 UN report, there are 7,496 drug addicts in the Maldives. However, critics say the real figure is likely to be much higher as the country’s entrenched drug problem has grown to endemic proportions during the past three decades.
Petty drug users are often arrested and charged with possession, but law enforcement authorities have a history of releasing suspected drug traffickers. Convictions in high-profile drug trafficking cases are rare.
The latest drug bust involving Maldivians comes in the wake of the arrest of alleged Sri Lankan drug “kingpin” Wasantha Mendis in Thailand. He is now in the custody of the Sri Lankan police narcotics bureau.
Maldivians have previously been linked with regional and international drug networks with Indian media last year linking former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb – who is now on trial on charges of terrorism and corruption – to an infamous Sri Lankan parliamentarian named Mr Duminda Silva who was allegedly involved in an “international drug racket.”