Members of Gambia's Army forces are seen in a stadium in Banjul, Gambia December 5, 2016. Picture taken December 5, 2016. REUTERS/ Thierry Gouegnon

Gambia’s army chief warns against ‘illegal’ possession of firearms, drugs

Gambia’s defense chief has warned soldiers to return government weapons and stir clear of using, trafficking and possessing illegal drugs.

Lt. Gen. Masanneh Kinteh returned to Banjul from an inspection of military installation just a day after his commander-in-chief, President Adama Barrow prolonged the mandate regional troops deployed to secure the small nation.

At least three soldiers have been charged with drug possession and one for illegal possession of a firearm since Barrow came to power.

Gambia’s security forces have been implicated in trafficking of drugs. The country has been used as a transit hub by Latin American organizations for drugs to reach European markets.

The largest ever burst of cocaine in West Africa was in the Gambia in 2010 in which the Gambian police arrested 12 suspects, including a citizen of the Netherlands and Venezuelan employees of a Gambian-based fishing company and confiscated arms and cash from suspected warehouses.

Severally security officers, including a police chief were arrested when the British Organized Crime Agency teamed with the Gambia’s Drug Law Enforce Agency to discover the record haul of highly concentrated cocaine behind a false wall in a warehouse basement an hour’s drive from the Gambian capital, Banjul.

Gambia has renewed its war against drug usage and is cracking the whip on traffickers and users. Authorities torched nearly two tons of marijuana last month, sending a signal that the Gambia is not a safe haven for drug pushers.

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