Transit Point

COLOMBO, December 17, 2013 (AFP) – Sri Lanka has recorded a sharp rise in drug busts, suggesting the island is becoming a transhipment hub for heroin in Asia, a government minister said Tuesday. In August, Sri Lanka customs found 260 kilos (572 pounds) of pure heroin in a container at the Colombo port. The cargo had been sent from Pakistan and declared as grease.

Police are investigating a senior official from the Prime Minister’s office who asked local authorities to waive demurrage charges and speed up the clearing of the container later found to hold one of the biggest hauls of heroin identified in Sri Lanka.

Rambukwella said an independent investigation was underway into that smuggling attempt as well as several others.

Police said they had detected about 300 kilos (660 pounds) of hard drugs this year compared to 15 kilos (33 pounds) last year. Police said they suspected drugs were coming in from the Indian subcontinent. Information Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said record hauls of illegal drugs seized by police and customs pointed to a new smuggling operation using Colombo as a transhipment location.

“The quantities of illegal narcotics clearly suggests that this is not