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Crime & PunishmentGeneralLiberia news

Liberia loses US$100m drug case

Liberian prosecutors have lost a court battle in a US$100m drug burst case against defendants Malam Conte, Adulai Djibri Djalo, Makki Admeh Issam, and Oliver A. Zayzay.

A jury panel at the Criminal Court “C” in Monrovia Thursday, 18 May 2023 handed down the unanimous verdict acquitting the four accused men, a blow to Liberia’s fight against illicit drugs trafficking.

The presiding Judge Blamo Dixon immediately ordered prosecutors to return money that the Government allegedly seized from the defendants.

The accused faced a criminal trial after their arrest last year for their alleged roles in the US$100m drugs seized by Liberian authorities at the premises of TRH Trading Corporation’s rented warehouse in Tonpoe Village.

On 1 October, the Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency (LDEA), and the National Security Agency (NSA) stormed the warehouse of TRH Trading Corporation in Tonpoe Village along the Japan Freeway, where the drugs had been offloaded from the company’s consigned container.

TRH Trading Corporation originally from Hungary, has its main offices on Jamaica Road, Bushrod Island with several sub-branches across the country.

The company is also part of AJA- Group Holdings, a conglomeration of ABI Jaoudi & Fresh Frozen Food.

TRH/AJA Group appears to be enjoying certain privileges with the Government of Liberia as it relates to its business dealings. TRH/AJA is one of the privileged companies that clear its containers from the port on invoices and bills of landing without going through any physical inspection.

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The container in which the US$100m cocaine was shipped originated from Castrolanda Cooperativa in Brazil and was loaded at the port of Itajai on August 23, 2022, before being forwarded to Maersk Line Liberia Limited with TRH Trading Company as the consignee.

The bust operation followed a tip-off from the United States Government and a huge quantity of raw Cocaine concealed among frozen chicken feet, wings and others were seized.

LDEA said the drugs were allegedly transiting from North America (Brazil) enroute to its final unnamed destination before it was seized.

During the trial, prosecutors insisted that it had proved its case beyond all reasonable doubts.

The prosecution claimed that all of its witnesses’ testimonies were corroborated, calling on the jury panel to hand down a guilty verdict against the four defendants.

But the defense team contended that the Government of Liberia falsely linked the defendants to the crime.

The defense lawyers pleaded with the jury panel to look at the evidence that was brought to court and hand down a not-guilty verdict.

“Free these people, because there was no evidence to link the defendants. The entire case rests on the statement from Malam Conte,” the defense said.

Meanwhile, the defense lawyers have pleaded with the court to order the Government of Liberia through the prosecution to return US$200, 000 that was allegedly seized from the defendants.

They also demanded that US$10.00 allegedly seized from Oliver Zayzay be returned to him.

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