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DLEAG says Sierra Leoneans account for most ‘kush’ trafficked into Gambia

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By Omar Bah

Bakary Gassama, Director General of the Drug Law Enforcement Agency-The Gambia, said Sierra Leonean nationals account for the most ‘kush’ trafficked into The Gambia. The drug is reported to have continued to cause serious devastation in Sierra Leone.

Addressing journalists recently at a joint security press conference held at the Ministry of Interior, DG Gassama said the first case of ‘kush’ was registered in The Gambia in 2021.

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He said the following year, there was no case, but last year over 25 cases were registered due to the country’s porous borders, which are hard to manage, especially with limited resources.

DG Gassama disclosed that most of these cases are very severe, leading to hospitalisation, or in some cases, victims are taken to Tanka-Tanka.

“The majority of the cases registered are Sierra Leoneans, and we can say their origin is Sierra Leone. They have penetrated our market, and we need the support of all Gambians to provide information relating to these crimes committed in our country,” he said.

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He said the emergence of new substances like kush, ecstasy, and other substances that are new in the market with very high potency is worrying and needs to be tackled with urgency, adding that the Ministry of Health has also realised the increase in admission of patients who develop serious health complications, and doctors’ engagement with these individuals has indicated that they have taken kush combined with other chemicals. He, however, said there is no medical proof to show that the drug is killing people.

“The government, the Ministry of Health in particular, and the security forces are very worried, and we urge the youths to stop abusing these drugs for the sake of their future,” he said.

Cocaine

DG Gassama said DLEAG seized over 800kg of cocaine in 2022 alone. In June 2021, DLEAG made the largest single cocaine seizure in the history of the country. Nearly three tonnes of cocaine with a street value estimated at more than $87 million were seized at the port in Banjul.

DG Gassama said 2.5 tonnes seized in 2021 was the single largest seizure, but in 2022 alone, close to 900kg bound for Europe were seized.

“These are significant consignments of cocaine that we have seized over the years, but all these drugs are in transit, so it is a problem for each and every country in the Ecowas region today,” he said.

He said The Gambia, Bissau, and other West African countries are used by drug traffickers as transit points.

“These are criminals who exist and venture into this illicit trade that generates a lot of income, so they want to capitalise on their influence to penetrate our borders by trafficking these drugs,” he said.

“It is not a consuming country when it comes to cocaine, heroin, and other hard drugs because users of drugs in this country cannot afford to buy cocaine, but we are doing all we can to curb the drug situation,” he said.

In The Gambia, he added, cannabis is the main problem because we are closer to Casamance, where more than 90% of the cannabis abused here is cultivated.

“We are doing everything in our power to make sure that we minimise the trafficking,” he said.

Landing Bojang, Assistant Inspector General of Police, said the country’s crime rate is relatively low compared to other countries, adding that the police are doing a tremendous job of apprehending suspects. He said that when it comes to murder cases, almost all the accused are apprehended by the police. Mr. Bojang said many cases reported online are organised crimes.

He urged people to stop concealing crime and complement the country’s security forces for a crime-free society.

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