Gambia Investigating “Kush”

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By Yankuba Jallow & Amadou Manjang

The Gambia has collected and sent samples from people who used “Kush” drug to laboratories outside the country

Dr Momodou T. Nyassi, the Deputy Director of Health Services at the Ministry of Health, said they have so far registered twenty-five (25) cases of people who claimed they used Kush whereas two (2) were brought already dead. He explained that they collected samples from them and have sent them for laboratory testing abroad to establish the facts.

“The investigation is ongoing with our partners,” he said.

When asked by Foroyaa how long these investigations will last, Dr Nyassi said he cannot give a timeline but promised that their findings will be made known to the public to help them understand the impact of Kush.

Bakary Gassama, the Director General of Drug Law Enforcement Agency of the Gambia (DLEAG) said Kush is a new phenomenon in Gambia, adding that hospitals have been admitting people with serious cases of drug abuse. He stated that those admitted claimed that they used Kush. He explained that his office started registering cases of Kush in 2023.

Kush

Dr Nyassi said drugs affect the person’s mental well-being and can lead to death.

“It can lead to partial distortion of your mental health and sometimes total distortion,” he said.

He said the Ministry will continue to work with DLEAG and other stakeholders to do more community engagements against the use of drugs.

Dr Abubacar Jagne, the Deputy Medical Director at the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital (EFSTH) said they started receiving cases of people who report that they used Kush last December. He explained that when these people were brought, they observed that their tongues were wagging and the patients were not able to control them.

“Their families hold their tongues and bring them to hospital. They will be biting them. It is scary. Two were brought dead. Sometimes they choke,” Dr Jagne said.

Dr Jagne called on people to be vigilant because most of the patients who reportedly used Kush are young. He said the youngest patient was 14 years old.

“We need to work hard to get rid of this [Kush phenomenon]. It is scary,” he said.

He stated that Kush and the likes are additives and once someone starts using them, it will become an addiction for them.

Director General Bakary Gassama said the majority of the people who trade in Kush are nationals of Sierra Leone residing in Gambia. He added that they are living with them in their homes. He encouraged the general public to report them so that they can put a stop to it.

“We are determined to curb the drug situation in this country. We have registered significant cases. The Gambia Police Force is complementing our efforts. We won’t relent until we contain the drug trafficking situation,” Gassama said.

DG Gassama reiterated that his office will continue their fight against the use and trading of illicit drugs in The Gambia. He added that they will arrest, investigate and then prosecute anyone who trades or uses illicit drugs in the country.

Gambia as transit point

The Gambia is mainly used by drug peddlers as a transit country to get their goods to Europe.

“These are criminals who engage in this illicit trade to generate huge money,” DG Gassama said.

He said that it is mainly a transit country and not a consuming country because hard drugs like cocaine and others are expensive.

“The Gambia and other West African states are used as transit points to get drugs to Europe – now storage points,” he said.

The Gambia in 2010 intercepted 2.5 tons, 3 tons in 2021 and 900 tons of illicit drugs in 2022.

“These drugs were on transit to Europe,” he said.

DG Gassama said the main problem of The Gambia is cannabis.

“More than 90% of the Cannabis being used here was grown in the southern part of Senegal. The Gambia also serves as the transit point for cannabis from southern Senegal to northern Senegal,” he said.

He stated that his office registered more abuse cases than trafficking.

“The trafficking of drugs is mainly by non-Gambians,” he said.

When asked by Foroyaa how the drugs come into the country, DG Gassama said they mainly transport them through the sea. He added that the country has a river from Banjul to Koina which means the drug dealers could use small boats and dock anywhere in the country.

“They can use boats and drop it anywhere and then leave. The security cannot be everywhere,” Gassama said.

He explained that the idea is to temporarily store the drugs in Gambia and move them to Europe in piecemeal. He called on the marine unit to support them in terms of surveillance of the Gambian waters. He also called for support in terms of surveillance equipment in the sea. He thanked the Government for providing them with two boats. He called for more support.

DG Gassama also discussed the idea of “Rip On Rip Of”.

Landing Bojang, the Crime Management Coordinator of The Gambia Police Force, said The Gambia is placed among the lowest countries in the CRIME INDEX. He stressed that crime is happening at a minimal rate compared to other countries.

He said they have intensified their patrols and they will continue with that.

“Crime is at the doorstep of everyone. Come out and report it. You save yourself and your neighbour. Do not conceal information about crime. Drug pushers are living with us in compounds,” he said.

He said every person should make it a point of duty to report crime to the security. He added that some people would know about a crime, but they would not come out to report it to the police. He emphasised that failure to report a crime means the person is aiding the person committing it to continue with it.

He said some members of the public would obstruct the police from doing their job and sometimes help the alleged criminal to escape. He cited a recent incident at Bakoteh Tipper Garage where the police came to arrest a man but they were instructed by members of the public resulting in the escape of the suspected criminal.