Liberia: Police Identify Culprits in Airport Drug Bust

The suspects, Sam Saryon and Samuel Freeman

….The disclosure comes just as the customs office of the LRA at the airport was broken into earlier yesterday. 

The Liberia National Police (LNP) and another  state security agency have officially identified two prime suspects believed to be at the heart of the illicit Methamphetamine drug bust at the Robert International Airport.

The two suspects, according to police and the Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency, are Samuel Freeman, and  Sam Saryon (not the NSA Deputy Director). The duo are believed to have played key roles in the attempt to smuggle a substantial quantity of the illicit drug Methamphetamine through the country's busiest international airport.

Freeman, who is the suspended Director of Security at the Airport,  has denied that the contents of the confiscated boxes, which he had attempted to smuggle from the tarmac through an unauthorized gate, were not drugs, as the government wants people to believe. 

The denial on Monday came just as customs officials from the Liberia Revenue Authority, in the presence of joint security, had inspected the boxes and claimed that the contents in them were moringa tea, even though testing was needed to confirm the conclusion.

The Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency, which has now joined the police to name Freeman as a prime suspect, says test results show illicit methamphetamine, a highly addictive drug. 

Freeman, who has reportedly linked the ownership of the boxes to President George Weah's Chief of Protocol, Nora Finda Bondo's alleged partner in crime, is Sam Saryon (not the NSA Deputy Director). 

Saryon, whose whereabouts, like Freeman's, are unknown, works as a Cargo Officer at Jos Travel, which is the general sales agent for Kenya Airways tickets in Liberia.  The latest development is a significant step in the ongoing investigation into the drug smuggling operation that has raised concerns about airport security and drug trafficking in the country.

The state declaration of both men as suspects in the airport drug saga comes just as the customs office of the Liberia Revenue Authority at the airport has been burglarized. The burglary comes just as the government admits, for the first time, that the ten boxes confiscated from Freeman contained highly addictive illegal meth drugs, contrary to their initial claims of containing moringa leaves.

It is, however, unclear whether, at the time of the burglary, the confiscated boxes were still within the premises of the RIA or had been relocated elsewhere as part of the ongoing investigation.

According to Danicius Sengbeh, the Communication Manager for the LRA, the burglary may have happened during the early hours of yesterday as the alleged perpetrators gained unauthorized access to the customs office, and its examination hall.

“There was a burglary at the Liberia Revenue Authority's Customs Office at the RIA," Sengbeh said. "Our offices and examination hall were broken into, and the suspect, Joe Welh, has been arrested and handed over to the police.”

“Welh is a staff member of Elite Facility, a janitorial company contracted by the LRA for cleaning services. It appears that Welh arrived at work early and entered the ceiling to steal goods from the examination hall. Currently, no missing items have been reported as the police continue their investigation,” he added.