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Sri Lanka police arrest military-linked ‘Ava’ gang leader in Mount Lavinia

(File photo)

Sri Lanka police have arrested a man they claim is a leader of the ‘Ava’ gang, a crime syndicate with reported links to the Sri Lankan military that is notorious for extortion and violent crimes throughout Jaffna. 

Police said they received a tip on February 2 relating to information regarding a suspect who was believed to be in hiding and based on the information, they carried out a raid at a two-storey house in Yogopura in Mount Lavinia. 

It is here that they arrested a 25-year-old they named as Prabhakaran Kausikan, a resident of Mallakam Jaffna. The Walana Anti-corruption unit which carried out the raid claimed the suspect was known by his alias Prabha or more commonly among his circles by the code name Kosini Thampa. It was further claimed that the Tamil man has two open warrants issued by the Jaffna Magistrate and another two warrants issued by the Mallakam Magistrate, over multiple crimes and offenses committed in Jaffna, linked to the machete-wielding Ava gang. 

At the time of the arrest, police also claimed to have found 'ice' - or crystal meth - in the possession of the suspect weighing 1 gram and 300 miligrams. According to the security forces, Kausikan was preparing to flee the country to Dubai shortly before his arrest and was temporarily living on rent on the upper floor of the house. The police further claimed they have evidence the suspect had links to other members of the organized group overseas and was coordinating activities with their assistance.

See the full statement (in Sinhala) here.

Last year an associate of the notorious Ava gang, which was responsible for a wave of gang activity in Jaffna, went on to become a candidate with the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP). During an interview with Ada Derana on 8 February 2019, Arun Siddharthan publicly admitted to being a member of the Ava gang. 

File photo: The Sri Lankan army in Jaffna.

Tens of thousands of Sri Lankan troops remain stationed across the North-East, which has seen flare-ups of gang violence and criminal activity in recent years. Amidst the heavy militarisation of the region, the Ava gang operated with reported close links to the Sri Lankan military intelligence and to senior military officials, including the former State Intelligence Service (SIS) Brigadier Suresh Salley. Salley was Sri Lanka’s former Director of Military Intelligence (DMI) when a wave of unrest swept through the Jaffna peninsula in 2016, which authorities blamed on the ‘Ava gang’.


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