By Ousman Saidyba, Public Relations Offcers,Drug Law Enforcement Agency, The Gambia (DLEAG)
Abating illicit drug trafficking and related organize crime is an uphill battle that nations across the globe are still struggling to contain and eradicate. Bridling this menace is compounded by the constantly changing dynamics, the advent of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) and the use of the dark web and social media to traffic and deal in prohibited and controlled drugs. Notwithstanding, Law Enforcement agencies continue to register significant progress in disrupting illicit drug supply and dismantling organized criminal syndicates.
In The Gambia, the Drug Law Enforcement Agency, The Gambia (DLEAG) continue to make giant strides in the crusade on drugs. The Agency has over the years registered landmark cases that have drawn regional and global attention to the country and the Agency’s positive strides in combating controlled and prohibited drugs.
This publication and subsequent other publications aims at keeping the public abreast on the seizure statistics of the Agency and the illicit drug trafficking and abuse situation in the country.
The publication/report will focus on the seizure statistics, number of cases registered, number of persons arrested, return of prosecution, some of the Agency’s preventive drug demand reduction activities etc.
SEIZURE STATISTICS FROM 2017 – 2018
QUANTITY OF DRUGS SEIZED
For cannabis sativa the agency seized 2 tons, 563 kilograms, 213 grams and 416 milligrams in 2017 and 2 tons 983 kilograms, 504 grams and 271 milligrams in 2018.
For cocaine, the Agency seized 624 grams and 748 milligrams in 2017 and 1 kilogram, 73 grams and 545 milligrams in 2018.
For hashish we seized 1 kilogram, 237 grams and 243 milligrams in 2017 and 1 kilogram, 941 grams and 222 milligrams in 2018.
For heroin, we seized 34 grams and 800 milligrams in 2017 and 5 grams, 400 milligrams in 2018. All these mentioned drugs are prohibited drugs as per the schedules of the Drug Control Act 2003.
We also seized 57 tablets of Bronazepam, 35 tablets of clonazepam, 24 tablets of Diazepam, 10 tablets of lorazepam and 298 grams 90 milligrams in 2017 and in 2018, we seized 299 tablets of clonazepam, 60 tablets of lorazepam and 3 amples of delonazepam.
In total, 126 psychotropic substances (controlled drugs) excluding 298 grams, 90 milligrams of methamphetamine was seized in 2017 and 359 psychotropic substances (controlled drugs) excluding 3 ample of delonazepam was seized in 2018.
The seizure statistics indicate an increase in the seizure of cannabis, cocaine, hashish, clonazepam and lorazepam while in shows a downward trend in the seizure of heroin and delonazepam.
NUMBER OF CASES REGISTERED AND AMOUNT OF PERSONS ARRESTED IN 2018
In 2018 the agency registered a total number of 668 cases involving 686 persons. 610 of the accused persons were Gambians and 76 were Non Gambians.
The Agency registered the highest number of cases in July 2018 booking 72 cases involving 79 persons. 73 of the accused persons were Gambian and 6 were Non Gambian.
For the reporting period, October 2018 recorded the lowest number of cases being 48 cases involving 46 accused persons.
On the age bracket/composition of persons arrested in 2018, those between the ages of 19 and 35 represent the highest number of arrest amounting to 311 persons representing 45.3 percent. This is seconded by those from the age of 36 above representing 43 percent involving 295 accused persons and those below the age of 18 years were 80 accused persons representing 11.7 percent.
On the sex distribution of the seizure statistics, 671 were males representing 97.8 percent and 15 were females representing 2.2 percent.
On the Nationality of the accused persons, 610 were Gambians representing 89 percent, 47 Senegalese representing 7 percent, 8 British Nationals representing 1.2 percent, 1 Sierra Leonean, 8 Bissau Guinean, 1 Ivorian, 4 Nigerians, 1 Dutch, 1 Italian, 1 Finish National, 1 Lebanese, 2 Guineans (Conakry) and 1 German.
On the gender of the accused persons apprehended for the trafficking of controlled and prohibited drugs in 2018, 186 were male clutched for trafficking cannabis sativa, 31 for trafficking hashish, 16 for cocaine and 1 for heroine.
6 females were involved in trafficking cannabis and 1 was involved in the trafficking of hashish.
GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBITION FOR TRAFFICKING RELATED OFFENCES
On the geographical distribution of cases regarding the trafficking of drugs, Banjul registered 1 trafficking case involving the seizure of 4 kilograms, 700 grams.
The Kanifing Municipality seized 139 kilograms, 930 grams of cannabis involving 15 persons, 633 grams, 631 grams of hashish involving 5 persons and 23 grams, 8 milligrams of involving 5 persons.
In total, 25 people were arrested on drug trafficking related offences in the Kanifing Municipality. This excludes those arrested for possession related offences.
The West Coast Region seized 2 tons, 267 kilograms, 146 grams and 895 milligrams of cannabis sativa involving 130 accused persons, 123 grams, 207 milligrams of hashish involving 14 accused persons, 702 grams of cocaine involving accused 5 persons and 4 grams 900 milligrams of heroin involving 1 accused persons. All the cases mentioned for the west coast region were drug trafficking related offenses as well.
The Lower River Region seized 119 kilograms of cannabis involving 24 accused persons. In the Central River Region, 2 kilograms 950 grams of cannabis was seized and the cases involved 3 people and in the North Bank Region, 23 kilograms 240 grams of cannabis involving 1 accused person and 700 grams of hashish involving 1 accused person were registered.
CHILD WELFARE, GENDER AND HUMAN RIGHT UNIT (CWGHR) PROCESSED CASES
The Agency’s Child Welfare, Gender and Human Right Unit (CWGHR) processed 10 accused persons involved in the trafficking of 47 kilograms, 940 grams of suspected cannabis sativa.
SENSITIVE INVESTIGATIONS UNIT
The Sensitive Investigations Unit (SIU) also seized 208 kilograms of cannabis involving 7 persons, 416 grams, 637 milligrams of hashish involving 12 persons and 1 kilogram, 25 grams, 130 milligrams of cocaine involving 6 persons.
NB: It is important to indicate that there are 23 persons involved in multiple cases. The number of persons and cases combined include 15 possession and 8 trafficking cases. Impliedly, adding these number of cases will sum up the total number of cases for 2018 to 709 accused persons. However, the addition will not affect the number of cases that will still remain at 686 cases for the period of 2018.
OTHER CASES REGISTERED BY THE AGENCY AND HANDED OVER TO COMPETENT AUTHORITIES
The Agency’s primary mandate is to control the trafficking, dealing and abuse of controlled and prohibited drugs. However, in the execution of our legally mandated duty, we usually apprehend people found or suspected to have committed other criminal related offenses. In such situations, suspect(s) are taken into custody and later handed over to the competent national authority with jurisdiction over such matters.
Some of these cases registered in 2018 include
DLEAG’S GIBORO FIELD OFFICE
- DLEAG’s Giboro field office seized 19 cartoons of suspected printer cartridges, three (3) Mab pistol with four (4) rounds, twenty five (25) rounds and thirteen (13) rounds respectively. Equally, twenty one (21) suspected stolen smart phones, sixteen (16) suspected stolen simple phones and a cumulative one million one hundred and ten thousand (1,110,000.00) CFA was seized and handed over to The Gambia Police Force (GPF).
- The Giboro field office also seized seven (7) cartoons of suspected stolen wine and handed them over to the Customs – Gambia Revenue Authority.
- DLEAG Sea Port field office also seized thirty four (34) bottles of suspected stolen alcohol and a cumulative fifteen (15) seized mobile phones handed over to the Customs – Gambia Revenue Authority.
PROSECUTION AND ASSET FOREITURE
NUMBER OF CASES DETERMINED
In 2018, there were five (5) specialized narcotic courts adjudicating drug cases. These courts were located in Banjul, Kanifing, Bundung, Brikama and Sibanor.
A total number of two hundred and two (202) cases were determined and the agency secured one hundred and eighty (180) convictions and there were twenty two (22) acquittals.
Pursuant to section 94 of the DCA 2003, seven (7) vehicles and five (5) motorbikes were forfeited to the Agency by various narcotic courts.
DRUG DEMAND REDUCTION
On preventive drug demand reduction, the Agency conducted several radio and television talk shows, schools and community outreach, capacity building trainings, partnered and collaborated with several youth groups and community based organizations on preventive drug demand reduction initiatives and activities.
JOINT AIRPORT INTERDICTION TASK FORCE (JAITF)
The Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force (JAITF) is a multi-agency unit established by the UNODC AIRPORT project in 2014. JAITF coordinate with similar units stationed at airports across the globe. They share real-time information and intelligence on drug trafficking related activities.
JAITF registered sixty five (65) cases ranging from drug trafficking, cigarrete and tobacco smuggling, imposter and documentary fraud, cash smuggling and environmental related offences.
The taskforce also searched 130 rush/unclaimed bags from 36 countries around the world. The bulk of the bags searched were from the USA and Spain but no illicit substance was found in any of the unclaimed bags. Dutiable items were found in some of the bags. These dutiable items were referred to customs for payment of relevant duties.
INTERNATIONAL JOINT OPERATIONS
The Agency and by extension JAITF participated in several international joint operations including Global Airport Action Days (GAAD) conducted by Europol, Interpol, Ameripol, Aseanapol, and Frontex.
Other international joint operations included Operation Lion Fish Global, operation COCAIR V and operation open road and operation Baarawulo.
OPERATION OPEN ROADS AND OPERATION BAARAWULO
Operation Open Roads and Operation Baarawulo were conducted in The Gambia with support from International Partners (UNODC and ECOWAS).
Over 250 officers drawn from 15 law enforcement institutions from The Gambia, Senegal and Guinea Bissau participated in this operation.
The operation covered ten land border posts in Seleti, Kounkane, Mpak, Senoba, Keur Ayip all in Senegal and also Giboro, Soma and Ferafenni in The Gambia. For Guniea Bissau, it covered Jegue and Pirada and the operational base was at DLEAG head office in The Gambia.
A simulation exercise on International Control Delivery (ICD) of cocaine from Bissau, through Senegal and termination in The Gambia was conducted. Control delivery is a law enforcement tactics that permit and supervises the transportation of illicit substances with the goal of establishing its final destination, identifying other players involve and bringing the consignees or owners to book.
During this operation, over 2000 information were shared, 980 people and 490 vehicles were searched. Suspected stolen vehicles and assets were seized and recovered. 3 kilograms of cannabis was seized and children who were possible victims of human trafficking were rescued and the suspected traffickers detained.
Operation Baarawulo conducted in The Gambia also resulted in the seizure of drugs, counterfeit currencies and expired medicines.
DLEAG signed operational Memorandum of Association with OCRTIS – our counterpart in Senegal. We also partnered and collaborated with the UK Border Force on intelligence, supply suppression and capacity building training related activities.
We received equipment support from the UNODC. The UNODC also supplied us with the TruNac Narcotic Analyzer. This machine have the capacity to analyze over 400 types of drugs.
The UNODC mobile training Unit (E-learning equipment) was also deployed in The Gambia. The system is loaded with over 120 courses on various areas of law enforcement and intelligence. In addition to the training opportunity presented, the system can also be used to assess competence for promotion and postings.
IN CONCLUSION, it is without doubt that DLEAG as an institution continue to gain local, regional and global recognition among our peers in the crusade on drugs. We have registered landmark cases and significant seizures that have earned us the trust of our regional and global partners.
We will continue to maintain a high sense of professional and improve on our performance and efficiency in curbing illicit drug trafficking and abuse.
We call on the public especially civil society organizations to complement our efforts and partake in keeping children, youth and drugs apart. Together, we can achieve our collective goal for a safe, secure and drug free Gambia.
SOURCE: EXTRACTED FROM DLEAG’S ANNUAL ACTIVITY REPORT 2018.
NEXT SERIES WILL REPORT ON THE 2019 SEIZURE STATISTICS AND EXTRACT FROM THE AGENCY’S 2019 ANNUAL ACTIVITY REPORT