The government of the Gambia through the Justice Ministry have made a fresh call on international partners including the world police body, Interpol to support its efforts in arresting international drug kingpin, Mr. Banta Keita wanted in Gambia for drug trafficking.
In January 2021, Gambia’s anti Narcotics agency made a major drug seizure of nearly 3 tons of cocaine with a street value of about $88 million, at the country’s seaport.
2.9 tons of cocaine stuffed in 118 bags was shipped from the Port of Guayaquil in Ecuador through Algeciras in Spain via Maersk Line Shipping Company.
The case which attracted broad international attention saw one Sherif Njie whose name was reportedly used as the contact person for the shipment, arrested and charged before the courts.
But on Tuesday, the Justice ministry issued a statement saying the main suspect is still on he run.
“The cocaine case involving one Banta Keita has been investigated. The suspect is on the run and we are working with international partners to apprehend him. There is no evidence linking the said Banta Keita with the President. Evidence is stored in a secure storage facility under the custody of the DLEAG. Once the evidence Is tendered it passes to the custody of the court. At the end of the trial the drugs are tested and weighed to ensure they match the original seizure quantity before destruction,’ The Ministry said.
The drug Law enforcement agency says the massive shipment valued at $88 million belongs to Banta Keita, a French national of Gambian descent.
Questioned about the progress of the Banta Keita case in June 2021, the Gambia’s Interior Minister, a former Police Chief told lawmakers in Banjul that “International investigations, cannot be put within timeframe. You can [make] temporary seizures, temporary activities, until the main suspect is arrested. This is a criminal link, linking all the way to Ecuador – a lot of personalities are involved, the Ecuadoran authorities are also investigating. We have to remember that these drugs transited through many countries undetected until their arrival in The Gambia undetected. So this is why we are collaborating with international partners to make sure the link is controlled from where they departed, in all transit areas up to Gambia. All we have as at now is only people we arrested here. We’re urging others to arrest others in other areas to dismantle the criminal gang.”
The Gambia has been previously used as a transit route for South American drugs shipments bound for Europe and other destinations.