Pubdate: Wed, 16 Jul 2008
Source: Times, The (South Africa)
Copyright: 2008 The Times
Bookmark: (Cocaine)


FREETOWN (AFP)- Police in Sierra Leone have arrested a total of 58 
suspects, including a number of foreigners, in connection with 
Sunday's record cocaine bust in the West African state.

Deputy Inspector-General Oliver Somassa said those detained included 
Americans, Mexicans, Colombians, Venezuelans, Brazilians and 
nationals from Guinea-Bissau and Nigeria. He did not give precise figures.

Others included local airport officials and five police officers. An 
air traffic controller and an employee of a bank at the airport were 
picked up trying to cross into Guinea, Superintendent Frank Sesay said.

Sources said the suspects were being detained at the maximum security 
Pademba Road prison in the capital Freetown.

A checkpoint manned by armed guards was set up yesterday night on the 
main road to the prison.

Somassa said police were still searching the area around the airport 
in an effort to track down other suspects.

"We have made a lot of progress and we are on top of the affair," he said.

The arrests follow the discovery on Sunday of 600 kilos of cocaine in 
an airplane bearing a fake Red Cross emblem at Freetown's 
international Lungi airport.

Police said the plane had come from Venezuela, which is an important 
exporter of cocaine shipments destined for Europe.

The seizure is a record for Sierra Leone and one of the biggest drugs 
hauls this year in West Africa.

Transport and Aviation Minister Kemoh Sesay said yesterday that 
maritime and port authorities had been ordered to step up checks on 
all boats in local waters.
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