By Ndey Sowe & Awa Touray
Officials from the Drug Law Enforcement Agency of the Gambia (DLEAG), on Thursdays, 24 January 2019, destroyed 2 tons and 990kgs of cannabis sativa, and grams and kilograms of Cocaine and Heroine, as well as 560g of hashish, at a location on the Old Cape road at Cape Point, in the Kanifing Municipality.
According to officials, DLEAG received approval to destroy quantities of drugs whose cases have been successfully dealt with in Court.
Speaking during the destruction, Alagie Bakary Gassama, the Director General of the Agency, said the exercise is meant to publicly destroy drugs seized following the successful prosecution in the narcotic Courts; that “we take this as an opportunity to hold ourselves accountable to the public, that the drugs seized are not recycled in the market but destroyed.” He added that he must admit that the fight against drugs is both complex and challenging. He however said that with determination, they will strengthen their actions and cooperation, to achieve the goal of an international society free of drugs.
He cited that West Africa is a key transit point in the global narcotic trade, resulting in a growing local market; that cannabis remains the most commonly abused drug in the country. He added that cocaine and heroin are seemingly a new phenomenon of drugs in the country with greater harmful consequences to the country’s youth. He said the newest drug in the Gambia is “Methamphetamine”, a drug he said is manufactured in clandestine laboratories, but of more deadly consequence.
Gassama said drug trafficking is the prime generator of money laundering and facilitates cross border crimes such as arms smuggling, illegal migration and in some cases, terrorism.
“Drug trafficking is a threat to national security and the increase in drug consumption and addiction. It raises the level of violent crimes as well as create vulnerability in the spread of HIV/AIDS through intravenous drug use and drug induced psychosis,” he said.
Mr. Gaye Sowe, board Chairperson of DLEAG, said drug abuse and illicit drug trafficking has enormous negative impact on youth, societies and nations at large; that young people believe that they could get rich quick by abandoning education to undertake drug abuse and petty trading of drugs, thus ending up as unskilled, unemployed and unproductive citizens. He said in doing so, they become a burden and a liability to their families, communities and states.
“African youth have a history of use and abuse by different interest groups. The acts of brutality and genocide committed in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda and recently by terrorist groups like Al Shabaab in Somalia and Boko Haram in Nigeria, Mali etc., could not have not have been executed without constantly placing the actors under the influence of drugs,” he said.
He cited that the Gambia like other countries in the sub-region, has been a target for the transit of illicit drugs such as Cocaine and Heroin; that the spill-over effect will leave some of these drugs in the local market either as payment for services rendered, or as a source of profit for the traffickers leading to local consumption.
Sowe further stated that to better respond to the needs of the citizens in a democratic environment, DLEAG has developed a five-year strategy to provide a platform for new mechanisms and institutions for consolidating their efforts in the fight against drugs and drug abuse.
“The strategy specifically advocates and offers an alternative development for victims of drug abuse in the form of rehabilitation and reintegration,” he said.
He concluded by saying that safeguards are provided for more proactive measures in fighting against drug production, with a view to guarantee and stabilize the socio-political situation of the country.