Gambia seizes nearly 3 tonnes of cocaine worth $88m

Jan 11, 2021, 11:05 AM | Article By: Momodou Jawo

Operatives of the Drug Law Enforcement Agency, The Gambia (DLEAG) on Thursday seized nearly three tonnes of cocaine from a shipment of industrial salt originating from Ecuador, amounting to over $88 million. It’s reported to be the biggest ever cocaine seizure in the country by the narcotic agency.

The 118 bags weighed a gross 2tonnes, 952kg, and 850g. The cocaine was discovered on Thursday during a search of a container shipped from the port of Guayaquil in Ecuador and through Algeciras in Spain, and then to the country.

Meanwhile, the principal suspect has been identified as one Banta Keita, a French-Gambian anda resident of Fajara M. Section, in the Kanifing Municipality. He is currently on the run as security personnel continue on their manhunt.

An insider from the narcotic agency said the cocaine worth US$88, 560, 000 is equivalent to GMD4, 516, 560, 000. Sheriff Njie, the contact person of the principal suspect has been taken into custody as investigation into the matter continues.

It could be recalled that the second largest cocaine to be seized in the country was in 2010 after the narcotic agency seized over two tonnes of cocaine at Bonto village of the West Coast Region (WCR).

DLEAG personnel on Monday 4 January 2020 conducted a physical search on the container number: Tgcu 212 7190 but was found to be containing only salt. The search continued on Thursday, 7 January 2021 on the remaining three containers, resulting in the discovery of the cocaine in container number Sudu 7531754.

The drugs, which were found in shipping containers, originated from Ecuador and transhipped at Antwerp, Belgium then Las Palmas, Spain and finally arrived at the Banjul port on the 27 December. 

Ousman Saidybah, the spokesperson of the agency confirmed: “Operatives of DLEAG on Thursday 7 January 2021 seized one hundred and eighteen (118) bags found to be containing cocaine. The bags are labelled “Sal Industrial.”

PRO Saidybah explained: “The drugs were seized from container number “Sudu 7531754” which is part of a consignment of four containers originating from Ecuador. The containers are said to be containing 1000 bags of industrial salt each."

According to him, three of the containers (Sudu 753 1754, TLLU 2135 228& TCLU 250 5880) originated from Guayaquil port in Ecuador and transported by Maersk Line Shipping Company. “They were transhipped at the port of Algeciras in Spain before proceeding to Banjul, of which they arrived in the country on 1 January 2021."

“The fourth container (TGCU 212 7190) also originated from Guyaquil port Ecuador transported by MSC. It was transhipped at Amtwerp, Belgium, then Las Palmas, Spain and finally arrived at the Banjul ports on 27 December 2020.”

“The entire four containers were shipped by ‘Ecu Worldwide Ecuador Sa’ and consigned to Bollore Transport and Logistics as their local partner. However, Ecu Worldwide issued an in-house Bill of Lading to the actual consignee (Circuit Long Trading CLT (Ltd) with Mr Sheriff Njie as the contact person."