-Says over L$1M worth of narcotics drugs, 245 suspects were arrested
Authorities at the Liberia Drugs Enforcement Agency (LDEA) on Monday, January 7, released its 2018 annual report with a call for budgetary increment and logistical support.
The report, which was issued yesterday in Monrovia, called on the government to revisit the drug law so as to sufficiently empower the LDEA in making the country a drug free nation through a viable court system that will cooperate with the agency.
LDEA further anticipates that the report will enable the public constructively analyze and profile the agency on the basis of its achievements, challenges and recommendations as it continues to provide security and control over the influx of illegal substances and drug trafficking in the country.
During the period of 2018, the agency experienced a vigorous and accelerating mode of transformation and coordination that resulted into changing the past tradition of engagement to a more legally-oriented and approachable manner to the extent that LDEA arrested at least L$129,847,387.5 worth of narcotics drugs, while a total of 245 suspects were forwarded to court for prosecution.
“Of the suspects, 202 are males, while 43 are females, with 150 being Liberians, while 95 are foreigners. From cases investigated so far, 58 have been indicted, 37 prosecuted, while 150 cases are pending court trial.
“Considering this development, it is important to inform the public about the current status of the LDEA as it relates to the viability, readiness and challenges faced by the institution,” the report said.
At present, the agency is still struggling in terms of man power capacity to adequately combat the proliferation of drugs trafficking across the country, owing to the lack of mobility and other necessary logistical support to enhance the operational needs of the institution.
The LDEA has stressed the impediment it is faced with particularly in presenting evidence against suspects charged for illegal possession of controlled drugs or substances. In most cases, decisions rendered by the court do not corroborate the degree of evidence presented against suspects of drug trafficking.
The agency continues to face series of challenges, especially in adjudicating cases sent to court where lawyers representing government’s interest are usually concerned about other matters rather than cases presented by the LDEA, thus limiting the possibility of the institution to pursue cases to the fullest.
On the other hand, the LDEA has overemphasized the need for an increase in budgetary allotment, because, according to the report, “Its annual budget has not been able to significantly reflect the robustness and operational needs of the institution since it was enacted by the legislature.”
The LDEA believes that the increment of its annual budget is key to practically enhancing and accelerating the dividends expected by the Liberian people.
By law, the LDEA report said, the Ministry of Justice is the Chief custodian of all FOC, and as a subsidiary of the MoJ and the first legal authority duly responsible to control situations arising from drug trafficking, it becomes our responsibility. .
The LDEA believes that making Liberia a drug-free nation is a national concern, and that all Liberians are encouraged to rally around the institution in the fight against the menace.