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President orders crackdown on underworld criminal gangs

President Mahinda Rajapaksa has directed special police teams assisted by the army to tackle the potent threat posed by underworld criminal gangs and drug dealers who have become a menace to society and peace-loving people, police officials said.

With the crackdown taking off the ground, many underworld kingpins and notorious criminal and extortion gang leaders are believed to have gone underground, the sources said.

"We have information that some of these Mafia-style leaders are even trying to flee the country to escape arrest", they said.

The President had warned that he will not tolerate any political interference to stall the ongoing operations against these criminal elements.

The President has said that the support of members of civil society is important to wipe out the twin menace of underworld criminal activity and drug peddling, which are a growing menace, the sources said.

Some of these gangs were involved in extorting money from businessman as well as politicians of all hues, as it came to light recently. One of these gang leaders had demanded Rs 300,000 from veteran Trade Unionist and Governor of the Western Province Alavi Mowlana. This gang leader was shot dead by the police later.

These gangs are known to carry out contract killings, murder, rape, assault, intimidation, throwing acid, eviction or throwing out of persons from lands and buildings. Their slogan is ‘if the price is right we will do anything you name’, police sources said.

Operations are being conducted under the instructions of DIG (Crimes and Organized Crimes) Anura Senanayake who has identified six underworld gangs and their members involved in various crimes including extortion and drug trafficking.

With the recent abduction and murder of underworld gang leader Anamalu imitiaz in the Maligawatte area by unidentified persons, many other gang leaders in Colombo, Modera, Borella, Dematagoda and Nugegoda and their henchmen are said to have gone underground.

Police have received reliable information that an underworld leader Olcott from the Borella area had escaped to Italy with the support of a musical group who were scheduled to perform in Rome

Investigators also have information that these organized criminal gang leaders and drug dealers have enjoyed the support of certain Police personnel who were in their payroll. These officers had always tipped off the gang members whenever operations were mounted against them and this has led to the inability of apprehending these criminals.

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