Six suspects including a woman and two Prison Welfare Officers of the Welikada Prison were taken into custody for their alleged involvement in extorting money from businessmen in the Matara town under death threat.
Inquiries revealed that the king pin behind the racket was a prisoner who had constant contacts with other suspects using his cellular phones.
Police media spokesman Ajith Rohana said that the woman is the wife of the inmate who had been making threats and asking for money from businessmen in Matara.
The suspects were taken into custody during raids in Colombo. Police said one of the suspects was a mother of five children whose brother had been convicted of drug trafficking and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Several leading businessmen the in Matara town told police that they credited money to the bank accounts as demanded under death threat by the prisoner.
One of the account holders was the woman taken into custody from the Maligawatta area. She was in possession of 15 SIM cards and several bank pass books. Her statement to the police revealed that her husband was an accomplice of the racket and he was taken into custody at a computer repair workshop in Colpetty. He told police that they shared the monies extorted with the prison officers.
Police used the couple as decoys and informed one of the prison officers that a businessman had credited Rs.50,000 to the account. As appointed, the prison officer sent two men to the Maradana Junction to collect his share.
The two men were Tamils, one from Punani and the other from Orugodawatta. Police arrested them immediately and told them to call the prison officer saying that they received the money. The prison officer told them to meet him at the Borella Junction.
The police team that lay in ambush arrested the two prison officers who accepted the money, SP Rohana said. The two prison officers had been involved in the racket for a long period of time. The suspects are being questioned further under detention order.
(Supun Dias and Krishan Jeewaka Jayaruk)