By Awa Macalo
The Minister of the Interior has said that the Drug Law Enforcement Agency, The Gambia registered 1,698 illicit drug cases involving 1,699 accused persons from 2020 to date.
Seyaka Sonko explained that the agency has apprehended more than 6 tons of cannabis, close to a quarter ton of hashish, almost 3 tons of cocaine and significant amount of controlled and prohibited drugs ranging from diazepam, clonazepam, ecstasy, methamphetamine, skunk, kush among others.
“The country’s only psychiatric hospital also reported a significant increase in the admission and treatment of drug induced psychosis cases.
We are collectively working towards combating misinformation, increasing public awareness and dismantling criminal syndicates.
As a government, we will ensure that we capacitate and equip DLEAG to implement a balance strategy in solving the world drug problem in tandem with internationally recognized standards,” he said.
Mr Seyaka also emphasized that his ministry and related agencies are committed to dismantling any organized criminal network that may arise in the country’s jurisdiction, even as they confront the difficulties of the drug issue in the midst of the health and humanitarian problems around the world.
“We will also continue to intensify our drug demand reduction initiatives and programs.
However, we call on civil society organizations, youth groups, community-based organizations and all relevant stakeholders to complement government’s efforts and participate in drug prevention programs and initiatives.
We also call on the public to be vigilant and report suspicious drug related or criminal activities to law enforcement officers. It is only through collaboration and collective participation that we can make our communities safe, secure and drug free.”
Minister Sonko was speaking at the commemoration of the international day against drug abuse and illicit drug trafficking.
The director general, DLEAG, Alhaji Bakary Gassama, said drug traffickers are constantly changing their trafficking routes and concealment methods. “They have also resorted to using larger shipment sizes, increased usage of private aircrafts, water routes and contactless methods to deliver their illicit products to end users.”
“We are also witnessing a worrying trend regarding the advent of new psychoactive substances and the manner in which these substances are abused. Youth continue to abuse the combination of different types of drugs that are highly potent, without quality control and laboratory standards. At the same time, they do not know the chemical composition of these drugs. All they care about is getting high,” he said.
“Another worrying trend in the country is the surge in the seizure of cannabis ruderalis, also known as skunk as well as ecstasy known as GAW GAW. These are new emerging drugs that were not common in the local market couple of years back,” he explained.