Sunday Times (Sri Lanka)
Prison locations pose hurdle to nab gangs throwing parcels over walls
Prisons being located plumb in the centre of cities are the biggest challenge to authorities now cracking down on mobile phones, drugs and other contraband being smuggled inside.
Smuggling attempts are highest at the female ward of the Welikada prison as well as the Magazine, Negombo, Galle and Kalutara jails, said Prisons Commissioner General Thushara Upuldeniya. Criminal gangs operating in the populated areas outside these prisons were running thriving rackets transferring contraband into prisons.
The jails are enclosed by high walls. But inmates pay gangs to throw parcels over these barriers either at night or during the early hours of the morning. Over the past month, more than 1,100 mobile phones and some 100grams of heroin were seized in raids within prisons.
On Tuesday evening, Kalutara North police arrested two suspects trying to throw two parcels over the wall of the prison. They contained two mobile phones along with two chargers, 2.5 grams of heroin and 19 tobacco leaves. A further 13 suspects alleged to be part of the gang involved in the racket were later arrested along with 13.7 grams of heroin.
Borella police are investigating the discovery of 18 parcels containing 39 mobile phones, over 250 phone batteries and SIM cards that were thrown into the female ward of the Welikada prison on Wednesday night. Mr Upuldeniya said these were handed over to the police.
Prisons such as Welikada and Magazine pose difficulties for authorities as there are houses right next to the walls. “We can only look into security inside the prisons,” he said. “The police have to handle security outside the perimeters to prevent such attempts from succeeding.”
Prison officials themselves are now subject to rigorous checks before entering prisons to ensure that no one smuggles mobile phones or other such items inside. Five prison officials alleged to have aided and abetted inmates to sneak such items into prisons have been interdicted over the past month.
While police have strengthened security around the outer perimeters of certain prisons where smuggling attempts are frequent, intelligence units have also been deployed within communities in these areas to collect information, Police Spokesman Superintendent of Police Jaliya Senaratne said.
The jails are enclosed by high walls. But inmates pay gangs to throw parcels over these barriers either at night or during the early hours of the morning. Over the past month, more than 1,100 mobile phones and some 100grams of heroin were seized in raids within prisons