Sri Lankan drug lord caught on cricket field

New Delhi, May 6:

One of Sri Lanka’s biggest drug lords has been finally arrested in Tamil Nadu after Indian authorities, who had been pursuing him for years, nabbed him while he was playing his favourite game - cricket.

Indian official sources are describing the Narcotics Control Bureau’s arrest of K Gunasekaran, 42, as a major development and say it is sure to hit the flow of heroin from Pakistan to Sri Lanka.

Guna, as he was widely known, was sought in Sri Lanka, where he reportedly enjoyed close ties with “political bigwigs”, links that helped him establish a network to supply drugs to Colombo and other places. Authorities questioned him after a bomb attack blamed on the LTTE in December 1999 which killed 26 people and partially blinded then president Chandrika Kumaratunga. The authorities wanted to know if he had links with the LTTE.

Guna continued to operate in Sri Lanka but fled to India in 2004. He settled down in Tamil Nadu, ostensibly to merge with the large community of Sri Lankan Tamils in the sprawling state. He came on a false Sri Lankan passport, which identified him as Prem Kumar. This helped him carry on his narcotics business.

After his arrest - which officials say took place yesterday in Chennai but which some accounts say may have taken place in Sivaganga town in Tamil Nadu - Guna reportedly told his interrogators that he was very much into smuggling high grade heroin from Pakistan to Sri Lanka for two decades.

According to officials, a kilo of heroin in India can fetch around Rs 500,000. In Colombo, the same quantity is sold for Rs 3-4 million Sri Lankan rupees. Guna also told his interrogators that since Hindi and Urdu were foreign to him, he employed well-paid couriers to fetch drugs from Pakistan via northern India.