Thursday, May 26, 2022

Interior Minister Updates Assembly On Largest Drug Bust at Gambia’s Seaport

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By: Kebba AF Touray

Gambia’s Interior Minister, Yankuba Sonko, has told the national assembly that an international bench warrant and Interpol Red Notice have been issued against the main suspect of the largest drug bust in the Gambia.

Sonko said the 118 bags containing cocaine, weighing two tons, 952 kilograms and 850 grams in a container of industrial salt was imported from Ecuador, South America.

Minister Sonko was speaking at the parliament while responding to the question raised by the Member for Brikama South, Lamin J Sanneh.

Sanneh asked the Minister to inform the assembly how far have the investigations into the alleged illicit drug intercepted at the Gambia Ports Authority gone.

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Minister Sonko explained that the investigations into the said matter is steadily progressing and that two male suspects are charged in court for various offences including aggravated drug trafficking.

“International bench warrant and interpol red notice have been issued against the main suspect. Temporal freezing order is secured from the High Court to block all accounts linked to the main suspect. The drug seized is properly secured in a safe location with 24 hours armed guard,” he said.

He noted that this is a transnational organized crime, thus, the implication has international dimension and that a number of countries are concerned with the case and that investigators are closely collaborating with each other in evidence gathering.

Assan Touray, Bakau lawmaker, asked the Interior Minister to inform the assembly of the plans to remedy the menace.

Minister Sonko replied that drug abuse is rampant and dangerous to the youthful population, adding that abuse among the youth is a serious concern for the government.

He said the drug control act provides that under section 15(1), as part of the functions of the Drug Law Enforcement Agency Gambia (DLEAG), to educate the public and particularly the youth on the dangers of misusing drugs and give publicity to those dangers.

He said: “As a policy, the Public Relation Office of the DLEAG is upgraded to a Directorate of Drug Demand Reduction. This places supply suppression and demand reduction at the same level of priority.”

He said principally, interventions such as securing of findings to renovate the structure at the DLEAG premises in Bijio, should be used as a rehabilitation center, weekly talk shows and school sensitization programs, between January and March, during which six schools have been sensitized.

The sensitization programs, he said, are key priority intervention areas in the national drug control strategy 2019 to 2023, and it is hoped that these activities will assist in meeting the objectives of section 15 (1) of the Drug Law Control Act.

“I would like to implore all the honorable members to help in sensitizing their constituencies on the danger of drug abuse to complement the efforts of the DLEAG. Your role in this crusade is absolutely critical,” he appealed. 

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