Notorious criminal and Sri Lanka’s most wanted drug kingpin Samarasinghe Arachchilage Madush Lakshitha infamously known as Makandure Madush, was arrested by Dubai law enforcement officials in an extraordinary raid this week.
At the time of his arrest, Madush had been on the run for over two years, evading the Sri Lankan Police successfully while living a comfortable life in Dubai and carrying out his criminal activities from the Middle Eastern country.
However, now his crime spree appears to have been ended by friends turned foes who tipped off the Dubai Police, leading to his unexpected arrest.
In a remarkable turn of events, the Dubai Police not only arrested Madush but also a host of other suspects now identified as prominent members of the Sri Lankan underworld.
While Dubai Police have commenced investigations into the group and their activities, according to informed sources it was a devious plan hatched by yet another group of underworld figures that led to Madush and his gang’s eventual arrests.
As a result of drug wars and rivalry, it was the one time friend of Madush, Kalu Sagara who tipped off the Dubai Police and the Sri Lankan STF about his location sources claim. Receiving information from two Sri Lankan Police officials of a possible party being planned by Madush, Sagara believed to be living in the United Arab Emirates himself had been on the alert constantly to such an event. Along with Kalu Sagara, Wele Sudha, Kosgoda Sujee, Kirulapone Merrill and Siddique are said to be involved in setting up Madush and the others.
Once friends engaged in the drug trade, this group had helped Madush to set up in Dubai but have been recently troubled and irked by Madush, whom they felt was sidelining them and dominating the local drug trade. To them, the party which had brought together many of Madush’s associates was a golden opportunity to get rid of the competition.
“Sagara had cunningly elicited information about the party from Van Rooyen whom he personally knew ,” a reliable source said, referring to teledrama actor Ryan Van Rooyen who was also arrested during the raid. Using the information Sagara had committed the ultimate betrayal by providing the tip-off to the Dubai Police, and the STF regarding the drug-fuelled party hosted by drug kingpin Madush.
According to sources, the gathering held on that day at a luxury hotel in Dubai at which the suspects were nabbed was a birthday party thrown in honour of Madush and his mistress Thilini Nishaya Thilakaratne’s six-year-old child.
Thilini Nishaya Thilakaratne is said to be the wife of underworld gangster Kalu Thushara who was killed during the 2012 Welikada prison massacre. Going all out, Madush is said to have even sponsored the air tickets for those attending the party from Sri Lanka.
Speaking to the Sunday Observer, reliable sources claimed the raid had taken place close to midnight on this day. While over 100 guests had been in attendance, many had left the party prior to the raid including notorious criminal ‘Angoda Lokka’ when a team of officers from Dubai law enforcement had arrived at the venue asking for Madush by name and a photograph of the most wanted man in hand. “Someone had provided a photograph of him to the Police as well,” the source said adding that the women and children were released immediately.
After discovering 20 grams of cocaine at the event, the Police rounded up others in attendance, arresting 31 male part ygoers for drug-related offences, including Madush. However, perhaps even unknown to them, Dubai Police had arrested a number of other Sri Lankan underworld figures such as the feared Maligawatta Kanjipani Imran who is suspected to have ordered a hit on his own wife last year, along with Sunshine Suddha of Mirissa and Rotumbe Amila.
Photographs of the arrested now being widely circulated have been sent by law enforcement officials to their source for identification purposes.
According to initial investigations, the Dubai Police has discovered that Makandure Madush had been living under the alias Ajith Avanka Wickramasinghe and had a passport issued under the name. He had also used a number of other aliases to evade detection sources said.
Despite being a wanted criminal in Sri Lanka operating from Dubai, he was able to organise a lavish funeral for his father who died in September 2018 following a motor accident.
While in hiding Madush also built the Dharmashalawa and Awasage of the village temple, in honour of his late family members in December 2018 as proved by photographs seen by the Sunday Observer.
Meanwhile, reports from Dubai based newspapers also claimed that a Sri Lankan diplomatic passport holder and a Sri Lanka Prisons official were also among those arrested. But perhaps the most shocking arrests were that of the popular father and son singing duo, Amal and Nadeemal Perera along with the much loved local teledrama actor Ryan Van Rooyen.
However, the friends and family of the local artistes have denied any involvement with Madush or the drug trade. “My brother is a singer and not a drug dealer” brother of Amal Perera, Sohan Perera told the media after a raid on his house by the Special Task Force (STF) of the Police.
According to him, Amal along with his son Nadeemal did not know Madush personally. “He was there to merely perform at the party” Sohan claimed adding that his brother had no knowledge that it was a party being hosted by Madush.
“My father left on February 4, he said it was for a show in Dubai” Natalie Van Rooyen, the daughter of actor Ryan Van Rooyen, told the media when questioned on her father’s plight. “My father is not a bad person,” she said. According to her, the family had been left in the dark on the events in Dubai. “No one has told us what is happening to my father,” she said.
While the families of the popular Sri Lankan artists have vehemently denied any possible connection to the notorious underworld figures who were nabbed along with them, the information received and raids carried out locally following the arrests in Dubai paint a different picture.
Springing into action, the STF has conducted a series of local raids since the arrest of the group on February 6. Raiding Amal Perera’s house in Boralesgamuwa on Friday, the STF discovered several empty cocaine wrappers Police sources said, while during a search of the Van Rooyen residence in Dehiwala the STF found a travelling bag with a false bottom along with a digital scale. A car used by him, belonging to Sunshine Suddha was also taken into Police custody.
With six of those arrested in Dubai revealed as residents of Matara, the Police conducted a special raid on their homes and places of business yesterday. Visiting a hotel believed to be owned by Mirissa Sunshine Suddha, the Police took CCTV recordings belonging to the establishment for investigation purposes.
The absence of Anushka Kaveeshal alias Janga, another associate of Madush who was arrested in Dubai allowed the Police to carry out a raid on his house located in Gandara, Matara during which they discovered 18 uniforms similar to those of the Sri Lanka Army and 23 live T56 bullets.
The raids resulted in the arrest of his 82-year-old great grandfather residing in the house along with his cousin who is said to be a soldier currently serving in the Sri Lanka Army.
“We also recorded a statement from the wife and aunt of Madush” a Police source confirmed.
Following the arrest of Madush and others, the Dubai Police have obtained blood and urine samples of the suspects to ascertain any drug use. They have not revealed the results of the tests yet.
According to Foreign Office sources, the group will most likely be produced before courts today (Sunday). While their fate and the possible extradition of the most wanted criminals in the group back to Sri Lanka remains uncertain, popular public opinion is that they should be tried in the United Arab Emirates instead.
Sri Lankan action on Dubai arrests
By Manjula Fernando
Sri Lanka’s Charge de Affairs in Abu Dhabi together with the Consul General in Dubai have met with UAE foreign Officials and brought Sri Lanka’s concerns on Makandure Madush’s arrest to their attention.
The Foreign Secretary, Ravinatha Aryasinha told the Sunday Observer that the Sri Lankan representatives during this meeting on Thursday handed over a full dossier, on the notorious drug lord wanted in Sri Lanka and some of the persons arrested with him.
The Foreign Secretary said that the UAE foreign officials assured them that they are taking the case very seriously, particularly due to the fact that the offences are related to drugs. According to the strict UAE law, the drugs detected in blood or urine is also considered as possession of drugs.An official source said the suspects of the case are expected to be produced in courts today (Feb 10). In the UAE calendar, Fridays and Saturdays are off days and Sunday is the first working day of the week.
Despite media reports that extradition of the drug lord is currently being discussed with the UAE officials, the source said,“ There is an Interpol red notice on Madush and extradition is part of that process.” But it is learnt that the Sri Lankan offcials have not pushed this prospect with their UAE counterparts so far. The diplomat said Sri Lanka’s first priority at the moment is to ensure continued detention of Madush and several other wanted persons who were with him at the high profile party. It has also been brought to light that the diplomatic passport holder is just a VIP who is not permitted to use a diplomatic travel document.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe responding to a query in Parliament last week said that Sri Lanka would allow the law of the host nation to take its course. He said the wanted criminal Madush would be prosecuted in the UAE first and the courts there would decide if the notorious drug kingpin is to be deported to Sri Lanka.
Given the calibre of the drug lord who had been evading arrest for a long time, and who is wanted in Colombo for many grave crimes, the officials here are worried that he will exploit whatever opportunities he finds to escape the law.
Minister Mangala Samaraweera refutes allegations
The incident has also caused a number of political tussles, with opposition members claiming that a media secretary working for Minister of Finance and Mass Media, Mangala Samaraweera was among those arrested and found rubbing shoulders with Makandure Madush.
The Minister refuting these allegations has directed the Police to investigate into the allegations and reveal the real personalities arrested in Dubai. “This mudslinging is an attempt to tarnish my political career spanning 30 years,” the Minister said in a letter to IGP Pujith Jayasundara asking him to conduct an investigation into the allegations being levelled against him.
Minister Samaraweera said that he is also considering legal action against media institutions which continue to carry these false allegations against him.He has drawn attention to repeated allegations by UPFA MPs Dilan Perera and Thenuka Vidanagamage in his letter to the IGP.
“Despite my firm denials of the accusations, MP Perera said these drug kingpins are on the Media Minister’s lap. I believe the hidden motive of such wild accusations is to save the real culprits behind the drug mafia. The Minister has requested the IGP to reveal the politicians who accompanied Madush to the airport to safely send him out of the country.
He said people have not forgotten the shameful history under the Rajapaksa’s where drug dealers were given political immunity.