The infamous white vans are back in circulation, only they’ve switched targets. It’s not LTTE suspects or members of the media anymore but underworld bigwigs and drug traffickers who are now looking over their shoulders. Karate Dhammika, a high profile mafioso type, fell victim to the white van 7-1operation but a few weeks ago.
He was kidnapped from a house in Rambukkana in which he had been hiding in the early hours of October 22.
Five days later, yet another criminal known as Loku Seeya suffered a similar fate in Wattala. A widely known kapumahattaya in a devale in Ragama, he had been trafficking drugs on a large scale. Loku Seeya, it is believed, was taken to an area close to Ampara, as his corpse was found floating in a river in Akkaraipattu a few weeks ago.
The latest victim of the white van operation was Jaleel Mohamed, an alleged drug trafficker with links to politicians in power who called Negombo his base of operations. He had been abducted on the night of November 30. According to informed sources, his politician friends are hard at work attempting to get him released.
7-2Jaleel, who has committed many a murder and dealt in blackmail, is a criminal who has been wanted by the police for a long time. He has even been accorded special police protection when carrying out certain crimes.
Jaleel is a father of two. He met the mother of his children while she was still earning her keep as a sex worker. He managed to gradually get her out of the trade and provided for her, after marriage, from his criminal activities. However, when Jaleel was once arrested, his wife was forced to return to her former profession in order to feed the family until he was released on bail. Unable to forgive his wife for what he considered a betrayal, it is believed that he poisoned her.
At the time he was kidnapped, Jaleel was in the process of building a two storey house in Dalupota, Negombo. The land is valued at Rs.7.5 million.
A number of other drug traffickers have fallen victim to the white van operation in both the city and 7-3the outstations. Priyantha Galabada, a chief suspect in the case of the slaying of Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra has also been abducted in a white van. Premachandra and three others were killed in Mulleriyawa during a shoot out on October 08.
As these criminals begin to be hunted down, a number of them are fleeing the country. Others, like drug peddler Mervin based in Peliyagoda who was caught by the Mirihana police with a large stash of marijuana and carrying false identi
fication for Velayudan Chandrapala, opt to stay in prison, safe from the white van, instead of paying the meagre fine.