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Army ready to deal with drug dealers: Commander

Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake, Commander of the Army, said that they are ready to wage the war on drugs.

“Once legal provisions would give coverage to us as envisaged, the Army is ready to apprehend peddlers of narcotics and addicts and to launch operations with other law enforcement authorities, identical to how we finished off LTTE terrorism ten years ago,”  Lieutenant General Senanayake said this morning (8) during a Media conference, held at Kollupitiya Media Centre of the Ministry of Defence, presided by the Chief of Defence Staff and flanked by tri-service Commanders.
 
To be in line with president Sirisena's directive for an all-out national ‘war’ against all varieties of illegal drugs, now fast spreading to many corners of the island, the Presidential Task Force has sought the active contribution of the tri-forces to tackle the devastating menace in cooperation with the Police and the Special Task Force.
 
Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne, Army Commander Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake, Navy Commander Vice Admiral K.K.V.P.H De Silva, Air Force commander Air Marshal Kapila Jayampathy and Military Spokesman Brigadier Sumith Atapattu addressed the press conference.
 
“Currently, the Army at different levels, is helping the Police, STF, National Committee on Dangerous Drugs, Excise Department officials since the use of narcotics has now become a social stigma and a baffling problem. Nearly 1/3 of our low-income families have fallen prey to this social evil. We are presently conducting awareness programmes, recruiting volunteers to empower existing drug prevention committees at village levels, in addition to different training modules we have already introduced. We support this drive by exchanging intelligence with other agencies as well,” he added.
 
The Army has consented to launch rehabilitation courses (1 year-long) at the Kandalkadu and Senapura rehabilitation centres and would engage in rehabilitation efforts of addicts once they are released from prisons in consultation with the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Justice.
 
The Navy has also taken an active role despite being faced with many challenges and has been responsible for the arrest of many drug peddlers in the past 4-5 years.

Similarly, the Air Force carries out regular air missions focusing on specific jungle areas where cannabis is grown while helping law enforcement authorities to destroy such cultivation. The Chief of Defence Staff in his interaction explained how closely the armed forces are working with international stakeholders for the same cause and stated that they continue to exchange vital information with their foreign counterparts in their efforts to fight the war on drugs.

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