Suspicion surrounds a secret deal between highly placed state officials and a politician to sell a stock of Blood Ivory which is in the custody of the Sri Lanka Customs Department at present, informed sources said.
In a shocking revelation, Daily Mirror has reliably learned that the stock of 359 elephant tusks, commonly referred to as Blood Ivory, and valued at over Rs. 360 million, which was seized by the Customs Central Intelligence Unit, while in transshipment, on May 22, 2012 is to be sold illegally to a third party by the relevant authorities under the patronage of a senior politician of the present government.
The contraband had arrived in the Colombo Port in a 20 foot container from Kenya en route to Dubai.
The sleuths had opened the container to inspect the goods as they were causing an unbearable stench, and found the tusks which still had flesh adhering to them. They had been severed from the live elephants -- killing them on the spot.
Customs officials said that the consignment weighing over 1.5 tonnes was the largest ever detected in a South Asian country.
Customs director general Jagath P. Wijeweera who confiscated the container carrying the consignment said it was now lying opposite the Customs Preventive Office inside the Colombo Port.
An attempt by the Presidential Secretariat to release Blood Ivory from the custody of the Customs in a bid to offer it to the Dalada Maligawa was foiled when many people, including environmentalists protested against the measure saying the contraband should be destroyed in public.
A letter sent to the Director General of Customs on December 19, 2012 on the subject of “Forfeited stock of 359 pieces of elephant tusks,” signed by the then president’s chief of staff Gamini S. Senarath had instructed the director general to release the goods to a courier service named Colombo Logistics -- to be dispatched to the Dalada Maligawa as directed by the former president, Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Responding to the allegations, Customs spokesman, director Leslie Gamini said the consignment was still lying outside the Preventive Office under supervision by the Department.(Kurulu Koojana Kariyakarawana)