Gambia: Two Cannabis Farms Discovered in Foni

Operatives of the National Drug Enforcement Agency (NDEA) recently discovered two cannabis farms in Jiken Village, Foni Bintang Karani District of the Western Region .

Confirming this to reporters Friday at the NDEA headquarters in Banjul, ASP Abdoulie Ceesay, public relations officer (PRO) of the Agency explained that on the 10th of September 2011, NDEA operatives at Sibanor acting upon a tip-off raided one of the farms, which belonged to one Essa Kujabi, a native of Jiken Village. He said: "Upon arrival at the farm, the officers found the accused watering his cannabis plants. He was arrested and the cannabis were uprooted which amounted to 85 plants."

Ceesay further stated that a further search was conducted on the same farm, leading to the discovery of a blue barrel containing 31 big bundles of cannabis. He added that more search revealed another 20 liter gallon, five liter gallon and half empty bag of rice all containing cannabis seeds. He added that the accused was arrested and escorted to Sibanor Police Station and is currently under the custody of the NDEA and helping them in their investigation.

Discovery of gun

The anti-narcotics agency spokesman further revealed that another cannabis farm belonging to one Yahya Colley was also discovered some meters away from Ensa Kujabi's cannabis farm in the same Jiken Village. He said Colley was also arrested with more than 100 cannabis sativa plants. "A further search was conducted and a single barrel gun with live cartridge was also discovered at the farm," Ceesay added. He also stated that the accused is under the custody of NDEA, helping the officers in their investigation. Asked if the gun was licensed, Ceesay replied in the negative. He said the accused is claiming that the gun belongs to his uncle, a claim yet to be confirmed. "What can be confirmed is that the gun and live ammunition is with us helping us is in our investigations," he added.

More arrests

Ceesay also disclosed that on 7th Septembers 2011 at Giboro village in Kombo East District of the West Coast Region, two immigration officers received a tip-off from an informant regarding one Lamin Badjie, a 46-year-old native of Mandouwarr village and Samba Sowe, a 28- year-old native of the same village, who were riding bicycles from Siliti to Brikama. "Upon acting on the information, the informant led them to search the suspects and when the accused saw the officers, immediately they [abandoned] their bicycles and took to their heels, attempting to escape," Ceesay said.

He said the officers chased the suspects, and Lamina Badjie was arrested on the spot and taken to the border post. He explained that the second accused, Samba Sowe was later arrested after he was spotted in a vehicle heading to Brikama. "Investigations revealed that Lamin Badjie was carrying six big bundles of Cannabis on his pedal bicycle, while Samba Sowe was carrying three big bundles. They are charged with dealing in prohibited drugs and possession of prohibited drugs for the purpose of trafficking contrary to Section 33 and 43 of the Drug Control Act," Ceesay said.

Asked if the discovery of the two cannabis farms indicates an increase in cultivation of prohibited drugs, PRO Ceesay replied that it shows that some people are still not heeding NDEA's warning against illicit drugs. He said it is high time people recognise the existence of the Drug Control Amendment Act 2011, adding that the punishment for trafficking drugs has been increased. According to him, any person found guilty of trafficking illicit drugs shall be fined not less than D1 million in addition to 10 years imprisonment. "Now it has been increased pursuant to the Drug Control Act 2011 to D10 million," he added.

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