16 December 2011

Liberia: DEA Seeks U.S.$6 Million to Wage Drug War

The Drug Enforcement Agency or DEA says it needs US$6 million to fight drug traffickers and users. The agency has warned that Liberia could be like Guinea Bassau if the authorities do not take an aggressive approach in fighting the dangerous trade the region.

DEA boss Henry Shaw, told this paper Wednesday that often traffickers enter the country, but DEA agents are not equipped to take them head-on at various entry (sea, land and air) points.

"Though the fight against drug trafficking is a global issue, Liberia could be another Guinea Bassau if robust steps are not taken to confront sellers, buyers and users because every level of the age groups are somehow linked," Shaw noted.

The DEA boss disclosed the arrest of 316 people of different nationalities on narcotic drug related offenses, including the discovery of over 33 drug farms throughout the country with Nimba and Bong counties taking the lead.

Shaw said those arrested include 246 Liberians, 48 Nigerians, six Guineans, three Sierra Leoneans, and two Ghanaians. Others are one Senegalese, one Malian and one Nepalese. Of this number, 258 are males, 58 females and six juvenile.

Categories of drugs confiscated by the DEA include 3,070.22 kilograms of marijuana; 392.29 kilograms of cocaine; 407.80 kilograms of Italian white, 64 tablets of amphetamine and 12.8 kilograms of dugee.

Others are 198.9 kilograms of precursor, 4401.0 kilograms of marijuana seed, 161 kilograms of marijuana coconut mixture, 3,586 kilograms of Kanyan marijuana and 0.9 kilograms of hatai tea marijuana.

Shaw however, named the lack of anti-drug law here, manpower, logistics and limited budgetary allotment, among other constraints impeding the smooth operation of the agency.

"DEA has 208 employees, 4 vehicles and operates a budget of US$ 552,000.00. With this, we are hardly visible at every entry (border) points, when we should have been," he noted.

He emphasized the need to boost DEA's strength to at least 2,700, enough logistics mostly vehicles to assign agents throughout the country. Liberia's Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), a replica of the Americans' DEA, was enacted into law in 1998 under the regime of former President Charles Taylor.

Earlier during the leadership of former interim president Dr. Amos Sawyer, the agency started as a national drug committee (NDC) under the supervision of an inter-ministerial committee in 1993, which centered on anti-drug policy.

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