Over Two Tons Of Cocaine Seized In The Gambia
Operatives of the Drug Law Enforcement Agency, The Gambia (DLEAG) on Thursday 7th January 2021 seized 118 bags found to be containing cocaine. The bags are labeled “SAL INDUSTRIAL”. The catch is a total gross weight of 2 tons, 952kg, 850g. The contact person in The Gambia, one Sherif Njie has been arrested while one Banta Keita, the purported owner of the containers, a resident of Fajara M Section, is at large and wanted in connection with the cocaine.
The cocaine concealed in a shipment of industrial salt
According to the Public Relations Officer of DLEAG, Ousman Saidybah, the drugs were found in a container (SUDU7531754) which is part of a consignment of four containers originating from Ecuador. As a cover up, the containers were said to be loaded with 1000 bags having each industrial salt.
All the four containers were shipped by ECU WORLDWIDE ECUADOR SA and consigned to BOLLORE TRANSPORT and LOGISTICS as their local partner with an in-house Bill of Lading was issued by ECU WORLDWIDE to the actual consignee (CIRCUIT LONG TRADING CLT (Ltd) of one Sherif Njie, a Gambian, is the contact person.
On Monday 4th January 2020, a physical search was conducted on one of the containers (TGCU 212 7190) but it 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 (SUDU7531754).
Banta Keita, a French passport holder wanted in connection with the cocaine
The contact person, Sheriff Njie is currently in custody helping in the investigation. The initial findings suggest that the containers belong to one Banta Keita, holder of a French passport #17CE91360. According to the passport bio data, he was born on 3rd January 1984. He is a resident of Fajara M Section, Kanifing Municipality.
As the hunt for Banta Keita continues, the Drug Law Enforcement Agency, The Gambia (DLEAG) advises “The general public to be vigilant and provide any information on the whereabouts of Mr Banta Keita to the nearest DLEAG/Police Station. The public is reminded that offering any type assistance to Mr. Keita to escape or harboring him amount to a criminal offence as provided the Drug Control Act, 2003”, a media release states.
A Cocaine route from Latin America via Europe to The Gambia
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. They were transshipped at the port of Algeciras in Spain before proceeding to Banjul, arriving on 01st January 2021.
The forth container (TGCU 212 7190) also originated from Guyaquil port (Ecuador) transported by MSC. It was transshipped at Amtwerp, Belgium, then Las Palmas, Spain and finally arrived at the Banjul ports on 27th December 2020.
This seizure is yet another confirmation that The Gambia, like other West African States continue to be as storage and transit route for cocaine by international organized criminal groups. DLEAG officials believe that “the drug consignment is not destined for the Gambia, thus not for local consumption”.