Liberia: U.S. Embassy Hails Security for Major Drug Bust; Says the Criminals often Underrate the Liberian Security
MONROVIA – The U.S. Embassy in Monrovia has hailed the security apparatus in Liberia for its swift move toward the impounding of 520kg of cocaine worth US$100 million.
According to the Embassy, criminals have often underestimated Liberia’s security sector and have often found themselves arrested and getting lengthy jail terms.
The Embassy: “Even before the arrest of murderer and narcotics kingpin Paul Calder Le Roux in September 2012 by Liberian authorities, increasing numbers of criminals and syndicates underestimating Liberia’s law enforcement capabilities have found themselves in handcuffs for formal prosecution and lengthy jail sentences in Liberia. The United States Government salutes the dedication of Liberia’s security services and their success this past weekend on the largest drug bust in Liberian history.”
The impounding of the drug and subsequent arrest of a major suspect followed a tipoff from the United States Embassy in Monrovia.
At about 1:00 PM, officers of the Drug Enforcement Agency stormed the SONIT Liberia Inc. compound and seized from there a huge quantity of raw cocaine concealed among frozen goods owned by SONIT Inc.
SONIT Incorporated is a frozen food Company located in Topoe Village along the Japanese Free Way.
Meanwhile, the Director General of the Liberia Drugs Enforcement Agency (LDEA), Marcus D. Zehyoue has assured the public that his men have been dispatched to every border point and that there will be no one left out in the syndicate.
Speaking to journalists at the headquarters of the LDEA Monday, October 3, 2022, Zehyoue said he has with immediate effect commissioned his investigating department to begin a full-scale investigation over the arrest, to include all those who have connection to the reported syndicate, whether directly or indirectly.
“Regarding the suspects that are at large, we have dispatched a team already to the various borders and a team will be leaving from here this evening to go and combine with them to bring the other suspect from across the Bo Waterside border. We want to ensure that all those that are involved are brought to justice. The quantity of drugs we are talking about is not an easy thing,” LDEA Director General said.
He added: “We are taking every step possible to ensure the crime scene remains a priority and that we are able to reach out to every source necessary to aid the investigation to a concluding end. We will leave no stone unturned and that we will ensure that all those involved, face the full weight of the law.”
The trio, Gustavo Henrique, a Brazilian, Adulai Djibril, a Portuguese and Malam Conte from Guinea Bissau are believed to have been part of an advanced team tracking the drugs to its Liberia destination. After a brief stay at Royal, the trio later transferred to Boulevard Hotel where they were staying until the bust unraveled Saturday morning.
A fourth suspect, a Lebanese national identified as Issam Makki who resides in Liberia, was arrested on the Sierra Leone side of the Liberian border early Sunday morning while trying to escape.
Makki, according to investigators, was part of the cartel tasked with negotiating with local businesses to buy their container once the frozen goods arrived at the port in Monrovia. Also, according to the Director General of the LDEA, one of the accomplices, Gustavo Henrique, escaped the country on Saturday evening.
Court to Decide the Magnitude
Also, speaking, the Minister of Justice Frank Dean says that despite the drug being biddable; the magnitude of the case is something that the Liberian Government will take seriously.
“Regarding the process of bid, yes it is biddable. We are in the process of strengthening our laws. The legislature now has a bid which makes drug trafficking especially of this magnitude at stake,” he said.
Minister Dean furthers: “However, this will be a matter for the court to decide. We are going to the court with all that we have, describing to the court the magnitude of what we are confronted with as our national security and I think the court will decide. And even if the court grants a bid, there are conditions that could be set to ensure that these people will not leave our borders.”
He added: “We are working friendly governments around the world as drug trafficking is a reprehensible crime. Some of them are cooperating and we know even those who have fled our borders may be brought back just because we received the full cooperation from the Sierra Leonean Government.”