Liberia: Another Multimillion Dollar Cocaine Shipment Exposed

.... In a bold and relentless move, smugglers have again managed to smuggle several million dollars worth of cocaine to Liberia via another container of frozen food — as was the case in October.

It has been barely four months since a group of high-ticket narcotics traffickers lost their US$100 million consignment of cocaine to the Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency with the help of the United States DEA and a local company. 

The drug bust, which took place in early October, was certified as one of the highest value drug consignments arrested on the African continent and made headline news across the world. 

It seemed to put narcotics traffickers on notice that Liberia would not tolerate that kind of business. But not for long.  In a bold and relentless move, smugglers have again managed to smuggle several million dollars worth of cocaine to Liberia via another container of frozen food — as was the case in October. 

However, on January 30, TRH Trading Corporation, the largest importer of frozen foods in Liberia, alerted authorities of the LDEA, the Liberia Seaport Police, the Liberia Maritime Authority and the Port Facility Security Office in Liberia to yet another attempt by drug smugglers to bring narcotics in the country.

According to a statement from TRH, the container seized on Monday is marked MNBU4204747, with products manufactured by the Brazil Frozen Food company (BRF), which supplies frozen goods to its many customers in countries all over the world. 

The drugs, seized Monday at the Freeport of Monrovia, were stored in 11 packs, believed to be worth millions of US dollars. The drug seizure on Monday marks the second time in barely four months that TRH Trading has brought to the attention of authorities, attempts by drug smugglers to infiltrate the system in Liberia.

Last October, TRH, working with local authorities, also proved instrumental when a reported US$100 million worth of cocaine was seized, marking the biggest operation in Liberia’s history. The bust capped a long-line of recent smuggling operations in which criminal gangs have been using Liberia to transship drugs.

"As the largest importer of frozen foods in Liberia, TRH Trading Corporation, is fully committed to the investment climate and prides itself for abiding by the laws of the Republic," the company said.  

"Today , TRH is up to date with all its tax obligations with the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA). TRH is also proud that none of its owners and employees have ever been charged in connection with narcotics cases.

"TRH Trading has proven, time and time again, that it is totally against the trafficking of drugs and will not relent in turning over to authorities any suspicious activities that could bring its hard-earned reputation into disrepute.

TRH Trading welcomes recent commendations from the Liberian government through Justice Minister Frank Musah Dean, as well as the heads of the LDEA and the Liberia Seaport Police, expressing satisfaction over the role the company has played in alerting authorities to multiple attempts by drug smugglers to infiltrate Liberia with narcotics.

"The seizure of these drugs (cocaine) is the result of coordinated efforts, especially a tip-off we (security agencies) had gotten from TRH," said Jerry Diah, Senior Collector at the Freeport of Monrovia. "The company had raised suspicion about a container that had berthed at the Freeport and wanted the police to search it."

Logan Davies, Director of the Liberia Seaport Police, also commended the efforts of TRH in seizing the narcotics. 

Lorenzo Pelham, the Deputy Director General for Operations, LDEA, described the seizure of the drugs as "another historical blow" to the drug cartels and a strong warning that they will all go down if they fail to realize that the game has changed. 

"The suspected container was thoroughly searched by a combined team of LSP, the LDEA and a team from TRH Trading Corporation. Our efforts of the search team were rewarded when 11 packs of cocaine were found," Pelham noted.

"The role played by TRH in these two busts clearly illustrate that the company has been a victim in all of this," the company believes. 

In a communication to TRH Monday, the frozen food giant, BRF wrote that it became aware of an allegation of an issue involving container MNBU4204747, containing products manufactured by BRF.

BRF says it has, with immediate effect, set up an internal investigation procedure to verify if the Container has been compromised at any stage during its journey to the port of destination at Monrovia, Liberia.

"As a preliminary comment," BRF wrote in the communication to TRH Trading, "please note that any BRF sales overseas undergo internal and external comprehensive controls including a thorough scanning by the Brazilian Federal Police, as per the standard procedure established by the authorities themselves. In addition, BRF counts with other monitoring measures that tracks any irregular deviation in our products or the security seals of our containers. Nevertheless, we understand that by using a complex supply chain system we are exposed to potential irregularities and/ or operational failures by third parties.” 

TRH says it stands ready to defend its integrity and work with authorities and agree with Justice Minister Frank Musah Dean that “Liberia will not be a haven for drug traffickers — whether as a point of transit or final destination.” 

According to sources, drug traffickers find frozen food containers or refrigerated containers attractive because, at freezing temperature, it can be extremely difficult for drug sniffing dogs or some sensory technology to detect the contraband with any degree of accuracy. 

Authorities believe that the consignments of cocaine that have been arrested so far were not intended for distribution in Liberia. Instead, the country has been designated by cartels as a transit point for onward distribution to other countries. 

Yet, not all consignees are like TRH Trading, which chose to alert the LDEA about the drugs found in its containers. It can be incredibly lucrative for some consignees, upon discovery of contrabands in their shipments, to allow the smugglers to collect the drugs and go away quietly — for a handsome fee. 

This is the second known container of goods landing at the Freeport of Monrovia, originating from Brazil loaded with narcotics.