Colombo: A Maldivian drug kingpin has been arrested in Sri Lanka and is awaiting extradition to the Maldives, media reported Thursday.
The man, identified as Ibrahim Shafaz, was sentenced to 18 years in prison in November 2013 on charges of drug trafficking. But, in early February, he left for Sri Lanka ostensibly for medical treatment, Xinhua reported.
Maldivian media reported that no members of the correctional service had accompanied him to Sri Lanka, which led to speculations that there was something suspicious about his departure.
The three-month period given to him for his medical treatment expired early this month.
Maldivian home ministry spokesperson Thazmeel Abdu Samad told media outlet Haveeru that Shafaz was arrested in a joint operation conducted by Maldives and Sri Lankan police. The operation was sanctioned by Maldivian Home Minister Umar Naseer, he said.
"He is awaiting extradition at the earliest," Thazmeel said.
Shafaz has since appealed the Criminal Court`s decision to sentence him to 18 years of imprisonment, from Sri Lanka. The High Court had accepted his appeal; however , according to court regulations, the hearings cannot commence till he appears in court.
Shafaz was apprehended in a special operation that was conducted by the police in 2011. During the operation, the police had discovered 800 gm of heroin from his apartment and other opiates from another apartment in the same building that a person connected to his network had rented.
According to the police, Shafaz`s cartel had been distributing drugs on a large scale in the Maldives since 2005.