Banjul, Gambia (PANA) - The Drug Law Enforcement Agency of The Gambia (DLEAG) Thursday seized cocaine worth GMD 4.5 billion Dalasis or about $87,040,615.50 at the Banjul port, an official source said here Sunday.
“Two tons, 952kg and 850g of cocaine loaded in 118 bags that were labelled ‘Sal Industrial’ were put in a container numbered SUDU7531754 and sent to The Gambia alongside three other containers from Ecuador.
The containers were said to be containing 1,000 bags of industrial salt each and arrived at the port on 27 December, 2020.
“The drugs were discovered during a routine check, resulting in the largest cocaine shipment ever seized in The Gambia,” the DLEAG said.
The statement also disclosed that three of the containers (SUDU 753 1754, TLLU 2135 228 & TCLU 250 5880) originated from Guyaquil port (Ecuador) and transported by Maersk Line shipping company and they were transshipped at the port of Algeciras in Spain before proceeding to Banjul, arriving on 1 January, 2021.
According to the statement, the fourth container (TGCU 212 7190) also originated from Guyaquil port (Ecuador) transported by MSC and it was transshipped at Amtwerp, Belgium, then Las Palmas, Spain, and finally arrived at the Banjul ports on 27 December, 2020.
The statement further said that all four containers were shipped by ECU Worldwide Ecuador SA and consigned to Bollore transport and logistics as their local partner.
The statement revealed that an in-house bill of landing was issued by ECU Worldwide to the actual consignee (Circuit Long Trading CLT (Ltd) with Mr Sherif Njie as the contact person.
“On Monday, 4th January 2020, physical search was conducted on container number TGCU 212 7190 but was found to be containing only salt.
“The search continued on Thursday, 7th January 2021 on the remaining three containers, resulting in the discovery of one hundred and eighteen (118) bags containing cocaine in container number SUDU7531754.
“Initial findings suggest that the containers belong to one Banta Keita, holder of a French passport #17CE91360. According to the passport biodata, he was born on 3rd January 1984. He is a resident of Fajara M Section, Kanifing Municipality, about 15km outside Banjul,” the statement said.
The statement disclosed that Sheriff Njie is currently in custody helping in the investigation while the hunt for Mr. Banta Keita continues.
“We strongly advise the general public to be vigilant and solicit their cooperation to provide information on the whereabouts of Mr Banta Keita to the nearest DLEAG/Police Station.
“The public is reminded that offering any type of assistance to Mr Keita to escape or harboring him amounts to a criminal offence as provided in the Drug Control Act, 2003.”
“This seizure is yet another confirmation that The Gambia, like other West African States, continues to be as storage and transit route for cocaine by international organized criminal groups. Certainly, these drugs are not destined for the Gambia, thus not for local consumption,” the statement said.
-0- PANA MSS/RA 10Jan2021