Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Narcotic Officer testify in $1 billion cocaine trial

Yuspha Jatta, a narcotic officer attached to the National Drug Enforcement Agency (NDEA) in Kanifing has opened his testimony in the ongoing $1 billion cocaine trial involving nine foreign nationals at the Magistrate Court in Banjul, The Gambia.
Presided by Magistrate Alagbe Taiwo Ade, on Feb. 15, 2011, Yuspha Jatta said he recognised all the accused persons and recalled that on May 15, 2010, he was instructed by his authorities to join the team of investigation together with Chief Superintendent Pa Ebou Jallow.

Led by Mr. Ghazi, the 1st accused, to Baobab Island were they conducted a room search, he said all the rooms were searched except room number seven. Mr. Ghazi was asked about the room key and he replied that the room belong to Juan Carlos Sanchez (2nd accused) and the key was nowhere to be found.
However, Mr. Ghazi agreed for the officers to break the door to conduct a search in room, nothing was found though and they left for Bonto, a village in the West Coast Region of The Gambia to conduct a search at a warehouse.
A few days later, Jatta said he led a team of experts team to Baobab Island were they conducted a similar search and found sealed arms and ammunitions behind a wardrobe in room number seven. “There were three types, AR 15 American type, AR Russian type and AR 15,” he said in description of the arms.
The fire arms were tendered as exhibits by the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Mikalive Abdullah, to which the Defence counsels Lamin S. Camara and Emanuel E. Chime did not object.
Jatta said the 2nd accused (Juan Carlos Sanchez), the occupant of room seven admitted owning the fire arms and have even written it in his statement. He said Sanchez did not show any authority for owning the fire arms and possessing them.
Jatta also said pictures found in a memory card (exhibit q) found in Room Seven bearing the images of the warehouse in Bonto were printed out by Inspector Lamin Gassama. The pictures were also tendered in court by DPP Abdullah and were marked as exhibits IDA 1 to 18. The Report of the analysis of the fire arms issued by Captain E Krubally was also tendered and marked as exhibit IDB.
The witness noted that the pictures showed a bunker at the back of the warehouse and on June 5, 2010 he went with Inspector Gassama to the warehouse found out that there is a big slap in one of the room. He said they make a hole through a chisel and hammer found in the house.
Looking through the hole, he said they saw a lot of sacks containing something and he called the Director of NDEA Benedict Jammeh and inform him about the discovery of the bunker in Bonto.
He said Benedict Jammeh invited all the Heads of the Security Forces (the Army, Police Immigration, Custom and NIA) and led them to Bonto, along with the 1st and 2nd accused persons. “We entered through the hole and found 85 bags of suspected cocaine and each bag contains 25 stones of suspected cocaine,” Jatta, the 8th prosecution witness (PW8) said. “The 85 bags were transported to the NDEA Headquarters in three pickup vehicles with an army escort. Mr. Ghazi and Sanchez were shown what was discovered in the bunker and were brought back to where they were detained.”
He said the suspected substances were analyzed and proven to be cocaine and is kept in a store guarded by armed men and has four or five keys, each kept by various sections of the security forces.
At this point, the DPP said he would like tender the 85 bags of the suspected cocaine but noted that it cannot be convenient to bring it into the court. However, he noted that he would want the court to move to the said store to see the bags for identification and applied for a short adjournment to enable him contact the various security units holding keys to the store.
Defence counsel Lamin S. Camara did not object to the application but raised concerns that the DPP said he want to write to the sister security agencies but he would prefer the  Court to order the sister security forces at a specific time to open in their presence the said store were the drugs are kept.
Magistrate Taiwo Ade granted the application by the DPP M. Abdullah and adjourned the case till Feb. 17, 2011 at 2pm. Source: The Voice

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