The issue of illicit drugs and their growing prevalence, along with the harmful consequences, especially among the youth of Liberia, has become a matter of grave concern. This concern led to the amendment of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act of 2014, which was recently signed into law by the President of Liberia.
While the full text of the amended law is not yet available to the public, it is designed to address the drug problem more effectively, particularly concerning those who violate drug-related laws.
It’s crucial to note that another law, The Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency Act of 2014, established the Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency (LDEA), responsible for enforcing drug-related laws. This law outlines various functions and duties for the LDEA.
Contrary to the provisions in the Act establishing the LDEA, a leaked audio recording reveals that the Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency Bong County Commander, Joseph Gorkor, and three of his deputies in Bong County allegedly held meetings with drug dealers in the region, not with the intent of preventing or suppressing illicit drug trafficking or enforcing drug laws, but seemingly to form alliances for personal financial gain.
Individuals implicated in the audio recording include S/A Joseph K. Gokor, Commander of LDEA Bong County Detachment, S/A Prince Boimah, former Chief of Operations in Bong County, and Julius Wayen, David Dean’s Town Commander.
In the leaked audio, S/A Joseph K. Gokor can be heard negotiating with individuals believed to be drug dealers, cautioning them to avoid law enforcement’s scrutiny due to the recent drug law amendments that prohibit the sale of illegal narcotics and drugs.
S/A Joseph K. Gokor, during the meeting, was heard saying, “Aside from me, the drug law has been passed, so we came to tell you people to leave the area and go to other counties.” He advised them to move to counties like Grand Kru, Nimba, River Gee, Margibi, and other more distant areas for their drug operations.
He went on to state, “We give you one month to leave or pack up and go into other counties because we don’t want to see any drugs here.” He assured the dealers that they would not be arrested and that the rules of engagement required them to provide $150,000 as a farewell token.
In the audio, drug dealers listed challenges they face, including a lack of customers in Dean’s Town, Bong County, and the increasing drug trade in Karyee Town in Nimba, a neighboring region.
After hearing the dealers’ concerns, S/A Prince Boimahinstructed them on how to establish mechanisms that would benefit the LDEA leadership. He suggested that funds should be provided to the LDEA Commander in Dean’s Town every two weeks for onward distribution to them.
The recording raises concerns about corruption within the LDEA and allegations of recycling confiscated drugs. These claims have circulated for years, and the audio recording provides evidence to support some of these allegations.
The issue of recording individuals without their consent has been raised, with some arguing that it is illegal and inadmissible as evidence. However, County Attorney for Bong County, Atty. Jonathan N. Flomo, has emphasized that public officials performing their statutory duties have a limited expectation of privacy. He cited the need for transparency and public accountability as reasons why privacy rights may not apply to government officials in the performance of their duties.
Regarding the leaked recording, Atty. Flomo expressed his disappointment with the conduct of LDEA officers involved and confirmed that an emergency joint security meeting was called as a result. The meeting minutes are being compiled for submission to the appropriate authorities.
The audio recording casts a shadow on the LDEA’s integrity, leaving the question of how authorities will address these allegations against the “rogue officers.” Notably, there is credible information that S/A Prince Boimah and other LDEA officers were previously involved in criminal activities in Bong County. The ongoing investigations may shed more light on the extent of corruption within the agency.
In response to the audio allegations, Prince Boimah, the former Chief of Operations for Bong County, stated that his $150,000 request was a strategy to identify drug dealers personally and ensure the safety of LDEA officers during operations. He maintained that it was done in good faith to protect law enforcement personnel.
Deputy Commander Alex Flomo acknowledged being present but not actively participating in the discussion. Commander Joseph Gokor, while confirming his presence during the meeting, did not confirm or deny the $150,000 request. He suggested that such strategies had been employed in RiverGeeCounty to arrest drug dealers effectively and emphasized his commitment to combating drug-related activities.
These allegations raise concerns about the integrity and conduct of Liberia’s drug enforcement authorities and their impact on the fight against drug proliferation in the country. The investigations and subsequent actions taken will determine the outcome of this unfolding situation.