-Lacks withholding cell, ventilated storage
The Daily Observer has established that the offices of the Liberia Drugs Enforcement Agency (LDEA) lacks the capacity to store illegal substances its officers have confiscated from suspected peddlers.
At present, the LDEA does not have a withholding cell to detain suspects, except in a kitchen, which does not contain proper ventilation and iron doors. Also, the Agency lacks a ventilated storeroom to preserve illegal substances, such as heroin, cocaine, the home-grown marijuana and some other contraband items that have been seized from suspected drug pushers.
Documents in the possession of this newspaper and which have been obtained from a reliable source, reveal the deplorable condition of offices in the building that is hosting the headquarters of the Agency.
“The head offices are located in a two-story private property in Lakpazee, Sinkor, next to the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation’s substation. It uses an old kitchen that was used by the lessee as a withholding cell, which is not safe to detain drug-suspected criminals,” an investigative document in possession of the Daily Observer has established.
Though no caretaker officials of the Agency have spoken about the issues, it is observed that the Agency does not have any other place to use as a withholding cell, a situation that is causing officers to send arrested suspects to the Careysburg police cell, outside Monrovia, or areas that the arresting officers would identify to detain any suspect.
Details from the investigation indicate that if Careysburg or other areas are overcrowded, the Agency sometimes uses the kitchen to detain suspects, a situation that have in the past often resulted into detainees escaping, the Daily Observer learnt.
“The storeroom attached to the kitchen and which has been turned into a withholding cell is being used to keep confiscated drugs of all categories, causing the room to emit an offensive odor according to sources. Additionally, the area used by the LDEA to keep arrested drugs is “unsafe and unhygienic” for the employees, our investigation established.
Chief of Operations Prince Harris said the problem with the building is not only the withholding cell and storage rooms, but the condition of the offices also make the working environment in-conducive for both staff and directors.
Harris said frequent escapes by drug suspects, due to the lack of secure holding cells, highlights the problem and undermines the fight against the proliferation of illegal drugs.
He said if the LDEA had a detention center with appropriate facilities that include a bathroom and toilet for drugs suspects, it could help the Agency prevent suspected criminals from escaping.
Harris, former Chief of Intelligence, was among those the Agency dismissed along with Sebastian A. Gibson on September 1, 2015, due to constant bribe-taking. But he was recalled shortly after the inauguration of President George Weah, who also nominated Gibson as deputy director for administration at the Agency.
Though Gibson has recently been relieved of his post by the President, Harris is still in the employ of the Agency.
Other officers that were dismissed along with Gibson at the time were Darius Davies, secretary to the Board of Internal Investigations and Professional Standards, Albert Hare, Deputy Chief Investigator and Eugene Quiah, Chief of Operations assigned in Bong County then.