Tons of cocaine seized in Gambia

Wednesday June 9 2010

LONDON, Wednesday

Some two tonnes of cocaine with a street value of roughly a billion dollars has been seized in Gambia, a British official confirmed today.

Twelve people of various nationalities were also arrested after investigators discovered the drugs in an underground bunker in a warehouse outside the Gambian capital Banjul.

West Africa is a major stop off point for drugs, often from South America heading to Europe, although officials say it is impossible to say exactly where this consignment was heading at this stage.

Agents from Britain’s Serious Organised Crime Agency working in west Africa played a supporting role in the operation, providing forensic assistance.

In March, Gambian President Yayha Jammeh said there would be “zero tolerance” for drug-trafficking after 11 senior officials were arrested as part of a probe linked to drugs. “I have zero tolerance for criminals. I have double zero tolerance for drugs,” President Jammeh told state radio. Today, a senior police source told AFP: “We have arrested three other people including two Gambians and another Nigerian last night linked to the cocaine case and the investigations continues as more is expected to come.”

He said that “12 people were first arrested on 12 May 2010 following a tip-off by residents in the village of Bonto, about 45 kilometres away from the capital, Banjul.” The initial 12 suspects were arrested with three kilos of cocaine, and after an investigation with the help of Britain’s Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) more than two tonnes of cocaine were discovered outside Banjul on June 4.

They included four Nigerians, three Ghanians, two Venezuelans, and three Dutch nationals. (AFP)