U.S. hails Liberia’s largest drug bust
The United States Government has hailed Liberia’s security services and their success in the largest drug bust in Liberian history.
Over the weekend joint security forces including the Liberia Drugs Enforcement Agency (LDEA) and the National Security Agency (NSA) arrested drug suspects and confiscated drugs worth about US$100m.
LDEA says the following verified intel from the U.S. government.
During a raid, the Liberian law enforcement authorities arrested suspect Malam Conte, a 31 – year – old Guinea Bissau national. He is undergoing a thorough investigation in connection to the drug syndicate.
With the cooperation of the Sierra Leonean government, suspect Issam Makki, a Lebanese national said to be residing in Liberia, was later arrested, making the number of suspects in custody two.
The Liberian authorities are said to be pursuing others linked to what may be the biggest single drug syndicate busted in Liberian history.
Makki was reportedly arrested while fleeing Liberia and had made his way on the Sierra Leonean side of the border between the two neighboring countries.
Regarding the arrest of Conte, the LDEA said it had stormed the compound of a frozen food company called SONIT Liberia Inc. in Topoe Village along the Japan Freeway and seized a huge quantity of raw Cocaine concealed among frozen goods owned by SONIT Inc.
Suspect Conte allegedly admitted having a connection with the drug consignment.
However, LDEA authorities say SONIT Inc. has distanced itself from the act and has since collaborated with the LDEA to ensure the arrest.
LDEA revealed that suspect Conte had told investigators that he was asked by his international partners to follow the consignment and to ensure it reaches the final destination.
But the LDEA said suspect Conte did not say whether Liberia is the final destination.
Was alleged to have arrived in the country with two other accomplices who checked in at the Royal Grand Hotel.
But later, they allegedly moved over to the Boulevard Palace Hotel where the LDEA said it was able to pick up additional information leading towards their syndicate.
Suspects Gustavo Henrique, a Brazilian, and Adulai Djibril, a Portuguese who both accompanied Malam Conte, were not in their hotel room at the time of the law enforcement officials’ arrival.
Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Marcus D. Zehyoue told a press conference that his institution is working closely with international counterparts to ensure that sufficient information is gathered leading toward extended links of running the conspiracy.
As the investigation continues, Zehyoue urged the media to be patient and depend on the LDEA for any other information regarding the arrest.
The LDEA boss confirmed the arrest of the suspects and seizure of the drugs during the press conference.
Director Zehyoue said he has commissioned his investigative department to begin a swift probe over the arrest of all those linked to the conspiracy, whether directly or indirectly.
“In addition to that, we are taking every step to also ensure the crime scene remains a priority,” he said.
“We will leave no stone unturned and we will ensure that all those involved face the full weight of the law,” Director Zehyoue added.
At the joint press conference, Justice Minister Cllr. Frank Musa Dean warned that Liberia will not be a safe haven for drug traffickers.
He said Conte is being thoroughly investigated, and also hailed Sierra Leonean government’s cooperation in ensuring suspect Issam Makki’s arrest.
“Other suspects are being pursued by our security forces,” said Minister Dean.
He thanked the Liberian law enforcement officers who took part in the operation for their gallantry.
Minister Dean also thanked the United States Government, through the U.S. Embassy for the tremendous assistance that Liberia continues to receive in the fight against drug trafficking and other transnational crimes.
In the wake of the latest development, the United States Government through its Embassy near Monrovia has congratulated the swift action by the LDEA and the NSA.
The U.S. said this resulted in the interdiction of a shipment of over 520 kilograms of cocaine, worth US$100 million.
It added that it also led to the arrest of two accused drug traffickers (one Guinea-Bissauan national in Liberia, and one Lebanese national in Sierra Leone) this past weekend.
“This is a result of ongoing investigations around the world and close coordination between national security services,” the U.S. said in a statement.
It noted that the success of this operation is the direct result of excellent communication between law enforcement agencies around the world, including Brazil, the United States, and Liberia, among others.
Even before the arrest of murderer and narcotics kingpin Paul Calder Le Roux in September 2012 by Liberian authorities, the U.S. said increasing numbers of criminals and syndicates underestimating Liberia’s law enforcement capabilities have found themselves in handcuffs for formal prosecution and lengthy jail sentences in Liberia.
The United States Government salutes the dedication of Liberia’s security services and their success this past weekend on the largest drug bust in Liberian history.