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539 GAMBIANS ARRESTED WITH DRUGS IN 2023

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By Omar Bah

The Drug Law Enforcement Agency of The Gambia (DLEAG) has revealed that 539 Gambians were arrested with drugs in 2023. According to the agency, 623 cases involving 633 accused persons were registered, out of which 539 are Gambian nationals and the remaining 94 are non-Gambians.

The agency disclosed that the various drugs include heroin, methamphetamine, clonazepam, ecstasy, tramadol, and diazepam.

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“In comparison to 2022, the seizure statistics show a decrease in the total number of cases and arrests from 632 in 2022 to 623 in 2023 and 650 in 2022 to 633 in 2023, respectively. However, the total number of non-Gambian nationals arrested increased from 87 in 2022 to 94 in 2023, while Gambian arrested decreased from 563 in 2022 to 539 in 2022,” DLEAG disclosed.

From the total number of 94 foreign nationals arrested in 2023, the agency added that 33 are Senegalese, seven are Bissau-Guineans, four are Guineans, nine are Nigerians, 34 are Sierra Leoneans, three are British nationals, one American, one is Turkish, one Spanish, and one a Congolese from DRC.

The report added that Sierra Leoneans, followed by Senegalese nationals, account for the bulk of the foreign nationals arrested.

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“However, while the total number of Sierra Leonean nationals increased from 10 in 2022 to 34 in 2023, the total number of Senegalese decreased from 51 in 2022 to 33 in 2023,” it stated.

According to the report, 25 arrestees, representing 4%, are below the age of 18, and in the same vein, 466 arrestees, representing 74%, are from 18 to 35 years old, while 142 arrestees, representing 22%, are above the age of 35.

“Of the total, 612 are males representing 96.68% of the total number of the people taken into custody, while female arrestees were 21, representing 3.32%,” it added.

Firearms

In addition to the prohibited and controlled drugs seized, DLEAG reported that its operatives stationed across the country also apprehended people in possession of firearms without a licence, authorisation, or proper documentation.

“Between January and December 2023, the agency seized nine firearms that included seven pistols, one hunting gun, and a rubber bullet pistol. The cumulative total of rounds seized equates to one 153 live rounds, three shell casings, and four rubber bullets. The cases of these people were handed over to the Gambia Police Force for further processing and necessary actions,” the agency stated.

The cases include a Senegalese, Mame Ousman Niang from Thies who was arrested with an MOD 85 automatic pistol and 17 live rounds as he was travelling from Gunjur where he owns a home, to Abéné village in Casamance.

“The rest include one Benjamin Da Silva, a Bissau-Guinean/Portuguese national who was travelling with Royal Air Moroc with a hunting gun made in Turkey. The suspect, who owns a compound in Giboro in The Gambia claimed that he uses the gun for hunting. The incident happened on 4 March 2023. The special operations squad also arrested one Baba J Susso with one block of cocaine, a rubber gun, four bullets, a Taser gun, and a knife. The suspect fired rubber bullets at the team leader, who sustained a minor injury. The said incident happened on 24 August 2023 around the Coastal Road Highway,” the stated.

It added: “One Yankuba Gassama of Banjul was arrested with a five-round, 8mm calibre Ekol-Tuna Pistol, 5 live rounds, and some quantities ofCannabis sativa; one Mustapha Badjie, an ex-gendarmerie officer who now works in a nightclub in Dakar, was also arrested with a pistol; Buba Bojang, a Gambian-American was also arrested with a new pistol and 100 live rounds; Antoine Francois Cornette De Saint Cyr, a French national was arrested with a pistol with eight rounds that he claims he uses for hunting; and a joint investigation team discovered a pistol and 23 live rounds at the compound of one Ndeneh Musa Faal at Bijilo on 4 September 2023. The matter was handed over to GPF for prosecution, and he was convicted and fined D50,000 while the pistol and rounds were handed over to the Police Intervention Unit.”

According to the agency, 152 cases were successfully prosecuted across the country last year with 132 convictions and 21 acquittals.

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