Three of the suspects involved in the shipment of the US$100 million worth of cocaine to Liberia have been taken to the Monrovia City Prison after the court compelled the Liberian government to produce their living bodies.
Makki Ahmed Issam, Adulai Djibril Djalo and Oliver Allen Zayzay were arrested by the government of Sierra Leone and turned over to the Liberian government on October 6 but have since been in the holding cell of the Liberia National Police (LNP) for 23-day undergoing investigation.
Their lawyers sought habeas corpus arguing that they had been held beyond the statutory 48 hours. But the government, on the other hand, contended that they were being held in the interest of national security.
The defendants on October 1, 2022, concealed in twenty-eight (28) cartons of pig feet labeled with Alegra foods which was seized at the SONIT Liberia Incorporated compound, Topoe village, Japanese Freeway, Montserrado County.
During background investigation, it was established that on October 1, 2022, a Lebanese man defendant Issam was seen at the Fresh Frozen Food Company located Bong Mines Pearl with co-defendant Conte negotiating for the purchase of the container marked MNBU4070592 on behalf of co-defendants Conte and Adulai.
It was established that defendant Issam escaped upon the arrest of co-defendants Conte and subsequently fled to neighboring Sierra Leone along with co-defendants Oliver and Adulai based on their involvement into the drug syndicate.
The defendants have been charged with unlicensed importation of controlled drugs, money laundering, drugs trafficking, criminal Conspiracy and criminal facilitation. They are now detained at the Monrovia Central Prison.
It can be recalled that a Guinea-Bissauan national identified as Malam Conte, 31, was arrested by the LDEA and National Security Agency (NSA) in connection with a reported US$100 million worth of cocaine placed in a container bound for Monrovia.
According to the report, the security apparatus picked up the suspect following a well verified Intel from the U.S. government, noting that following the arrest, suspect Conte admitted having connection with the consignment and reiterated that he has since arrived in the country about two weeks ago to await the consignment.
However, following the arrest of the consignment, the Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency (LDEA), the National Security Agency and partners Wednesday, October 5, 2022 burned to ashes the cocaine worth US$100 million or LD15 billion.
However, the burning excise which took place at the Barclay Training Center in Monrovia was observed by the U.S Embassy, the CIA, the United Nation, the Armed Forces of Liberia and the Media among others.
Speaking to the media during the burning exercise, Liberia’s Justice Minister, Cllr. Frank Musa Dean reiterated his caveat that Liberia is not a safe haven for drugs traffickers, whether as a point of transit or final destination.
The country’s Attorney General at the same time further declared Liberia as a “No-Go-Zone” for current or would-be drug law, stressing, “We want to be very clear that Liberia will not be a safe haven for any drug traffickers, whether as a point of transit or final destination.”
He added that those arrested will face the full weight of the Liberian law, pointing out that the joint security has taking seized of the matter and thereby declaring the premises of SONIT Liberia Incorporated, in Topoe’s Village as a crime scene.
Minister Dean at the same time then thanked the United States government, through its Embassy in Liberia and its Bureau of Narcotics and Law Enforcement, for the tremendous support to Liberia in the fight against drug trafficking and other transnational crimes.
For his part, the LDEA Director General, Marcus D. Zehyoue, said as per the nature of the arrest and the condition under which the search was conducted, they couldn’t conclude the entire search but hoped to do that by every means possible.
According to him, in addition to the information posted about the alleged accomplices to suspect Malam Conte, the intelligence dragnet has successfully arrested a Lebanese national identified as Issam Mekki, disclosing that Mekki was arrested across the Bo-Waterside on the Sierra Leone border while attempting to escape the country.
He added that Mekki was then ordered to be brought back to Monrovia with immediate effect, adding that one of the accomplices, Gustavo Henrique, fled the country on Saturday evening.
“This morning, I have with immediate effect commissioned my investigation department to begin a full-scale investigation into the arrest, to include all those who may have connections to the reported syndicates, whether directly or indirectly,” he said.
The LDEA boss further maintained that the government, through the DEA, is taking every step possible to ensure that the crime scene remains a priority and that they are able to reach out to every source necessary to aid the investigation to a conclusion.
He vowed that they will leave no stone unturned and that they will ensure that all those involved face the full weight of the law, averring, “We are also working closely with our international counterparts to ensure we gather sufficient information leading towards extended links surrounding the criminal conspiracy.”
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