Imported chicken racket busted

By Lal Gunesekera

Over 200 kg of chicken, imported illegally into Sri Lanka, was seized from two trading establishments in Sea Street, Pettah on Wednesday (13) evening.

Two teams from the Investigative Unit of the Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) and another team from the Central Intelligence Division of the Customs Department conducted the raids.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Cooperatives and Internal Trade told The Island that the chicken was stored in deep freezers in the establishments, which were caught unaware by this raid, conducted on information received.

He said that the chicken, in packeted form, was being sold for Rs. 250 a Kg. The controlled price for a kilo of chicken is Rs. 350 with skin. He further said that the employees in the two establishments were being questioned regarding the identity of the importer/importers and that a breakthrough will be made soon. The freezers with the chicken have been sealed.

He told The Island that this was only the tip of the iceberg and that the Ministry together with the Customs will get to the bottom of this illegal import and bring those guilty to justice. He said that no stone will be left unturned.

Inquiries made by The Island, from those involved in the poultry business, revealed that a large consignment of chicken had been shipped from India to the port of Galle, and stored in Galle itself.

They (wholesale industry sources) told The Island that the chicken was transported to Colombo and distributed only in the nights by van to eating kiosks in the Pettah, Fort, Maradana, Grandpass, Slave Island, Kollupitiya, Bambalapitiya, Wellawatte, Dehiwala, and Mount Lavinia areas with some being distributed even to tourist hotels/ guest houses. Only 10 to 20 kg of chicken is distributed to each kiosk and not large quantities.

The Additional Director-General of Animal Production and Health Dr. A. D. N. Chandrasiri told The Island that no permit to import chicken has been issued by them and that it could have been smuggled into the country.

Additional Director-General of Customs W. A. Chandradasa said that he had ‘no knowledge’ of any import of chicken into the country.

Minister of Cooperatives and Internal Trade Johnston Fernando told The Island that he was determined to net in the main culprit/culprits and end this sort of illegal imports of food stuff.

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