Liberia: Another Drug Bust at RIA

….. LRA Hands Over Seized Consignment, Guns to Relevant Authorities

The Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) has seized and transferred three boxes of “confiscated narcotics drugs and 13 pieces of guns” to the appropriate government entities.

The narcotics, as indicated on the Airway Bill, were originally imported into the country by  Sam Siryon, the same individual associated with a recent methamphetamine drug seizure incident at Roberts International Airport (RIA).

The illicit drugs were transported into the country via Kenya Airways flight (KQ 508) on September 11 and were uncovered during a routine inspection of cargo within the RIA Cargo warehouse, a press release from the LRA has disclosed. 

Just as the recent meth burst, the latest illicit substances were disguised as organic green tea leaves. However, the seemingly innocuous tea leaves had been thoroughly saturated with methamphetamine, a highly addictive and dangerous drug.

In an official handover ceremony held on Thursday, the Customs Department of the LRA relinquished custody of three boxes of narcotic drugs to the Liberia Drugs Enforcement Agency (LDEA).

Agent Edmond B. Reed, Officer-In-Charge of Customs Investigations, remarked during the handover of the drug consignment to LDEA, “This marks the second shipment of Organic Stevia Green Tea Leaf, which the LDEA has confirmed to contain Methamphetamine.”

Meanwhile, on  September 20, the Customs Department transferred 13 Short Single-Barrel firearms to the Joint Security in Zorzor City, Lofa County.

The short single-barrel firearms were discovered while being smuggled into the country through the Yeala Customs Business Office (CBO) in Lofa County, bordering Guinea. The firearms were uncovered during a routine inspection of cross-border traders.

The alleged smuggler, identified as Saika Fofanah from Kakata City in Margibi County, entered Liberia from Guinea, concealing the firearms in bags.

Suspect Fofanah is currently in the custody of the joint security. Both the confiscated drugs and firearms are subjects of ongoing investigations in accordance with Liberian law.

The Customs Department of the LRA remains committed to its core responsibilities, which encompass not only revenue collection but also facilitating cross-border trade, ensuring border security, and safeguarding the social interests of Liberia’s citizens.

The arrest of the firearms coincides with a statement issued on September 21 by the Liberia National Commission on Arms (LiNCA), calling on the General Public to “refrain from violent activities, especially armed violence and the illegal possession of weapons during the holding of October 10 elections.

The Commission, according to its Acting Chairman, Thomas K. Kollie,  believes that this unwholesome act of arms violence and illegal possession of weapons by civilians especially during this electioneering period has the proclivity to undermine the peace and security of the State, especially in the wake where peaceful citizens gathered in their various localities to exercise their political franchise in terms of campaigning and to vote. 

“Anyone caught in the act of illegally possessing firearms and inciting arms violence in the country at this time,” the Commission warned, “will be arrested and prosecuted in keeping with the firearms law of Liberia.” 

While State Security is being alerted to arrest any illegal arms activities, the Commission also calls on the public to report anyone found unlawfully possessing firearms, including the illegal trafficking and sale of firearms.

Illicit trading and possession of guns remain a serious national threat that pushes toward undermining the social, economic, and political fabric of society. 

“As such, the Commission is exerting all efforts to curtail arms proliferation, and this can be done through vigorous awareness and sensitization to the public, particularly border traders, students, and young people. Small arms and light weapons had contributed hugely to the destruction of lives and properties in Liberia,” the Commission’s statement concluded. 

Amidst concerns of elections-based violence this year, members of the public have raised concern about the whereabouts of recent batches of illegal arms smuggled into Liberia in the last 24 months. Key among them is the batch of assault rifles that were illegally shipped through the Free Port of Monrovia in January 2023. 

“All illegal arms arrested in Liberia are put in the armory — under the custody of the Liberia National Police (LNP) and the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL),” Thomas Mulbah, Assistant Director of Communication and Outreach, LiNCA, told the Daily Observer. “All diplomatic missions that assist Liberia in the fight against illegal arms trafficking, including ECOWAS, the United States of America, and others, are aware of the handling of illegal firearms arrested by Liberian authorities.”