M.M.M. Nawas, the Sri Lankan national who has been arrested by the Narcotics Control Bureau along with his compatriot Mohamed Afnas for alleged involvement in an international drug trafficking racket, had travelled to Gulf nations on a fake Indian passport. “Investigations are under way to determine the facts. Both had been living in Chennai under assumed identities after they fled Sri Lanka,” a Customs official said.
“Nawas is wanted for an attempt to murder the then Sri Lankan narcotics control bureau’s inspector, Rangajeeva, on May 9, 2017. He went underground thereafter,” the official added.
Nawas is said to be a key associate of Kanjipani Imran, now lodged in a Sri Lankan jail, who had direct links with Pakistan-based drug cartels. The accused arranged vessels to transport drug consignments from the Gwadar port through maritime routes to transit points in Sri Lanka and the Maldives.
Payments were made through the ‘hawala’ channel via Dubai.
Imran worked with Sri Lankan underworld figure Makandure Madhush.
The two earlier operated from Dubai, where they were arrested in 2019 and extradited to Sri Lanka. They were held in a Colombo jail. Madhush was killed in a crossfire between the police and some drugpeddlers in October last year.
“In the recent past, some pointmen for drug smugglers in Sri Lanka have been found operating from Tamil Nadu,” the official said, adding that a probe was under way to find out if Nawas had developed links with local criminal gangs for logistics support.
Last year, the drug enforcement agencies found that another Sri Lankan national, Angoda Lokka, a notorious drug trafficker and associate of Madhush, had been living in India since 2017.
He died under mysterious circumstances in Coimbatore in July 2020. Lokka had fled Sri Lanka following an attack on a prison bus in February 2017, in which rival gang leader ‘Samayan’ was killed along with five other jail inmates and two prison officials.
According to the NCB, the drug trafficking network involving Nawas has links in Afghanistan, Iran, the Maldives and Australia.