DAKAR, SENEGAL — Liberia’s Drug Enforcement Agency destroyed nearly 300 kilograms of marijuana Friday evening in a suburb of the country’s capital, Monrovia.
Part of a new nationwide crackdown on drug traffickers, officials say the drugs were smuggled into the West African country from neighboring Sierra Leone by a member of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s motorcade staff.
The presidential aide, Perry Dolo, used an official vehicle to transport the marijuana. He and at least three other men with whom he was traveling were arrested shortly after crossing the border.
Liberia’s Information Minister, Lewis Brown, said the burning was to show that there will be no tolerance for drug-related crimes.
"You can be in the center of a convoy, but if you break the law, there will be no hiding place for you," he said. "That convoy will not hide you. We will arrest you, we will properly investigate you, and, as has been done, we will prosecute you in keeping with our laws. This crackdown will continue. It’s a nationwide crackdown."
Liberia has a long history of drug problems. While it is illegal to grow, buy or sell marijuana in Liberia, penalties for drug offenders are minimal and have rarely been enforced.
Farmers throughout the country continue to produce and distribute marijuana, and the smuggling of drugs from Sierra Leone remains a problem.
Nick More, a 35-year-old resident of Monrovia’s West Point community, said he applauds the government for this latest crackdown on drug traffickers, but that more needs to be done.
"You cannot say you want to fight drugs war when farmers in Liberia are planting, are growing marijuana," he said. "So I think what the government should be thinking of doing now is to move on those that are planting marijuana in our country. If the government does that, I think they will be moving in the right direction."
The government has not said what they will do about the marijuana farming inside Liberia.