Monrovia – The Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency (LDEA) says it is taking measures to combat the compromise of drug trafficking, impersonation, and other illegal conduct impeding the agency’s functions.
According to LDEA Director Marcus Soko, the agency has embarked on a consistent destruction of drugs arrested and confiscated from traffickers or traders in Liberia.
He made these comments in Monrovia on Thursday, February 27.
Director Soko maintained that instead of burning dangerous narcotic substances, including marijuana, cocaine, heroin, among others only on June 26, the agency, under his watch, has commenced the frequent burning of these illicit substances.
He pointed out that burning of drugs arrested and confiscated from traffickers or traders frequently is intended to discourage the agents of the DEA from compromising drug related cases.
He noted that drug related cases would be compromised if those dangerous substances are kept in the custody of the LDEA for a prolong period of time.
“When we took over the agency, all drugs were destroyed on International Drug Day which is the 26th of June, when all drugs arrested and confiscated were destroyed. It doesn’t make sense to me to keep drugs for six or seven months, or a whole year before destroying it. I discussed this with my two Deputies and we came up with a plan,” said Mr. Soko.
“Instead of burning once a year, we are burning two, three or four times a year. The longer you keep the drugs, chances of compromising and recycling is very high. We’ve been doing that successfully from the time I took over. We have zero-tolerance when it comes to drug trafficking, recycling and compromising. Burning these drugs will not stop, it will continue”.
At the same time, Director Soko has disclosed that the agency has instituted measures to prevent persons from impersonating as officers of the LDEA.
According to him, a consignment of 200 sets of uniforms was purchased from the agency’s budget for its officers.
He disclosed that following the efforts applied by authorities of the agency, international partners, including the United States government have helped.
“Something I was not satisfied with when I took over was the uniform. Some of the officers were wearing green, black pants or whatever they can afford”.
Director Soko further disclosed that the agency has commenced the production of its identification cards to avoid duplications.
He added that these ID cards have multiple security features that make it difficult for anyone to duplicate.
Speaking further, Director Soko assured that despite the country’s “weak drug laws”, the agency will not hesitate to carry on its assigned tasks and responsibilities.
He alleged that the feebleness of the Liberian drug laws is solely encouraging traffickers to stay in business.
Director Soko indicated that most often these traffickers are taken to court to be prosecuted, but are released on bail because drug abuse and trafficking remain bailable offenses in Liberia.
He stated that suspected drug traffickers arrested by the LDEA have not been prosecuted in a timely manner.
“The drug law supposed to be non-billable, but it is billable. We have the traffickers taking advantage of that. If you arrest a trafficker and take him to court, he goes to court and maybe in three of four hours, he walks out. We all need to fight about this drug law,” he claimed.
“I sat with my legal people and we came up with a plan to do a draft of the drug law. The present drug law we have, you have three degrees of felony and there is no penalty. In the draft, we added penalties to the charges. We expect that when this is passed, people can take this seriously and start to give people the maximum sentences that.”