‘Gambia will be hostile territory to illicit drug traffickers & patrons’

Mar 1, 2022, 10:53 AM | Article By: Momodou Jawo

The Director-General of the Drug Law Enforcement Agency – The Gambia (DLEAG), Bakary Gassama, said the recent seizures of almost three tonnes of cocaine at the seaport and almost a quarter ton of cannabis resin (hashish) in Yundum is a manifestation that West Africa continues to be used as a transit point for drugs and The Gambia is not an exception.

“We must therefore work together, strengthen our resolve to dismantle criminal syndicates and ensure that The Gambia becomes a hostile territory to illicit drug traffickers and their patrons,” Gassama said in a statement read on his behalf by Ebrima Drammeh, DLEAG director of Operations during the University of The Gambia students’ week held at Tendaba in LRR. The theme for this year students’ week was: ‘UTG in the Frontline: Action for Peace, Social Cohesion and National Security in a Post Elections Gambia’.

The  week provides a platform for students to interact and deliberate on pertinent issues relating to their welfare and general wellbeing. It also provides an opportunity for students to interact with relevant stakeholders and discuss critical issues that are central to nation building and national development.

Drammeh maintained that drug abuse, illicit drug trafficking and related activities including transitional organised crimes is a persisting phenomenon threatening global peace, stability and socio-economic development, saying: “The problem is compounded by the strong, established link between illicit drug trafficking, terrorism, and terrorist financing,, money laundering, undermining democracy and economic activities, promoting corruption and fuelling crime and violence.”

Drammeh added that from 2018 to 2020, the agency seized total quantities of seven tons 847 hg, 871 g, 61 mg of cannabis, 58 kg 905 g, 343 mg of cocaine, 243 kg, 893 g, 210 mg of cannabis resin (hashish), 1386 tablets of controlled drugs comprising diazepam, clonazepam, bronazepam, ecstasy and 24 g, 400 mg of heroin among others, and claimed that DLEAG registered 1958 cases involving 1987 persons during the reporting period.

In the first three quarters of 2021, he said the country’s narcotic agency seized 2 tons 22kg, 167g, 993 mg of cannabis sativa, 2 kg, 514 g, 633 mg of hashish, 2 tons, 952 kg, 946 g, 770 mg of cocaine, 68 g, 280 mg of heroin and 707 tablets of controlled drugs, while claiming: “On the returns of prosecution, from 2018 to 2019, 347 cases were determined with the agency securing 301 convictions and 46 acquittals.”

Coumba Mathurin Diop, programme manager, UNODC Banjul Office, said: “The fight against drugs requires an integrated multi sectoral approach, a collective support of everyone and carrying out concrete joint actions like the one that brings us together today, related to prevention, treatment and care.”

Drug abuse and trafficking, she said, is crucial for UNODC as it celebrates the fight, on one hand, against drug use among young people and, on the other hand, against drug trafficking throughout the world. “All countries in the region are concerned by this danger and The Gambia must also develop mechanisms to respond to this growing problem by having a balanced approach between prevention and repression, demand and supply.”

“Drug trafficking poses threat to national security, hence there should be collective efforts from the government and stakeholders in ensuring that the menace of drug and its related activities is fought in the country. I want to urge the students to take advantage of the interface and I also urge the government and CSOs to mobilise public support to fight drug trafficking,” Momodou B.K. Ceesay, who represented the regional governor of LRR said. 

Lagamy Drammeh, the UTG Students’ Union President said: “If there is any meaningful change that is to be championed, then it needs to start from the UTG, thus the students’ week is key.”

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