The Gambia Drug Law Enforcement Agency (DLEAG) has denied allegations of complicity in the trafficking of several tonnes of cocaine.
Last month, Senegalese authorities seized more than two tonnes of pure cocaine from a ship off its Atlantic coast.
The 2,026 kilos of cocaine was found on a ship 363 km (226 miles) off the coast by naval forces backed by air support from the French air force, the navy said in a statement.
The ship had five crew members aboard, it added.
A Senegalese journalist, Pape Aly Niang later accused the Gambian authorities of being complicit in the trafficking of the drugs.
But DLEAG said Niang’s allegations are false and misleading.
“Contrary to Niang’s false narrative, on 18th October 2021, our Senegalese counterparts in the fight against illicit drugs — Office Central de Repression du Trafic Illicite de Stupefiants du Senegal (OCRTIS), shared information with us based on the existing Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) among DLEAG, OCRTIS and Policia Judiciaria da Guinea Bissau (JP), ” the agency said.
It added: “An investigation was immediately opened to locate one Muhamad Abdallah, the suspected organiser of the consignment. A guesthouse (Aisha’s Apartment Residence) where Mr. Abdallah allegedly lodged was raided and thoroughly searched with no traces of either Abdullah or associates. However, the guesthouse manager confirmed that Mr. Abdallah and two others left the Gambia in the early hours of 18th October 2021.”
The agency further added:” In our continuing investigation, the proprietor of TORODO Fishing Company, the local Gambian agent handling the registration of the boat named “LA ROSA” was invited for questioning on the 21st October 2021.
“According to the agent, Mr. Abdallah deceived him into believing that he wanted to use the boat for leisure river transport targeting mainly tourists. The Gambian agent was contracted to decorate the boat and prepare flyers to advertise the launching of a maiden river trip. The agent had also started the registration and licensing process of the boat with the Gambia Maritime Administration (GMA). Before the documentation was completed, Mr. Abdallah authorised Captain Foday Marrah, a Sierra Leone national, to navigate the boat without prior notification of the agent.
“When the agent enquired the whereabouts of the boat only days later, Mr. Abdallah who is not a resident of the Gambia, told him it had a breakdown around the sandbank and was being repaired.
” Therefore, Senegalese journalist Pape Aly Niang’s claims that a senior Gambian personality supervised the boat maintenance are meritless lies that cannot be substantiated. We ask all those who may have come across Niang’s report to see it as a purely imaginary tale by an errant reporter desperate to gain attention.
“Significantly, on Saturday 31st October 2021, the DLEAG’s director of Intelligence and International Cooperation, the director of OCRTIS, the director General of the Judicial Police of Senegal and deputy director Policia Judiciaria of Bissau had a virtual meeting to share information and strategize on this matter and the way forward.
“We hereby assure Gambians that our country has one of the strongest drug interdiction regimes in Africa backed by robust accountability mechanisms.”