World

Official: Liberian President’s Convoy Smuggled Pot

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JONATHAN PAYE-LAYLEH, Associated Press

MONROVIA, Liberia (AP) — Liberia’s Drug Enforcement Agency has arrested the head of the presidential motorcade for allegedly using an official vehicle to smuggle 297 kilograms (654 pounds) of marijuana into Liberia from neighboring Sierra Leone, officials said Monday.

The motorcade commander, Perry Dolo, was arrested over the weekend along with three other men after crossing from Sierra Leone via the town of Bo Waterside, said DEA Director Anthony Souh. The other three men were a Liberian official, a Guinean and a Sierra Leonean believed to be a member of the armed forces, Souh said. He did not provide further details about the men.

The vehicle used in the operation is known as “Escort 1,” the jeep that normally leads the president’s convoy, Souh said.

“He took the car during his day off to go do this thing. He was not on duty, but he used the official car,” Souh said of Dolo.

Journalists were denied access to the suspects because they were still being interrogated at the DEA after their arrest by a joint force that included members of the Emergency Response Unit.

“They are still with me going through the process,” Souh said. “We want to speedily send them to court as soon as possible because the case is too high. Using a presidential car? It’s too big.”

Liberia’s DEA has in recent years tried to combat marijuana farming in Liberia’s interior counties, which is primarily done for local sale and consumption. However, weak drug laws have made the practice difficult to curtail.

According to the 2012 World Drug Report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 9 percent of Liberian high school students use cannabis.

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Associated Press writer Robbie Corey-Boulet contributed reporting from Dakar, Senegal.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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