“Young Drug users could rise to 1.2m if … -LDEA Boss AB Kromah Raises Alarm

MONROVIA: Amidst various accounts of the drug situation among the young people in Liberia from multiple sources such as the United Nations, the Director General of the Liberia Drugs Enforcement Agency (LDEA), Col. Abraham Kromah has raised an alarm that “if the projections are left unchecked, the number of young people in our community entangled with drug abuse could rise to 1.2m within in the next 6 years”

Speaking at a regular media briefing at the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT), on Thursday, April 25, 2024, Kromah said the alarming rise of narcotic substance abuse among Liberian youth is something that should not go unattended to and urged stakeholders including the government to play a meaningful role to revert the trend.

“Recent reports have shown light on the concerning trends indicating that a significant number of our young people are involved in the misuse of experimentation of illicit drugs. This issue demands our immediate attention and our collective action for which we are being called here today to address”, Kromah said.

Referencing available statistics from reliable sources according to him, the LDEA boss said that the information “emphasizes the gravity of the situation and highlight the critical importance of implementing effective measures without delay”.

Accompanied by two of his deputies whom he introduced at the occasion, Gbawou Kou, Deputy Director General for Administration and Hassan Fadiga, Deputy for  Operations, Kromah spoke on the commitment of the LDEA under his leadership to combat the scourge of drugs as justification for their appointment of President Joseph Nyuma Boakai as such they have sworn to undertake robust operations to address issues surrounding drugs abuse in the country.

“We understand the significance of this matter and are dedicated to undertaking honest efforts to reverse and reduce the prevalence of drug abuse among the young people in this country”, Kromah said

Speaking on the strategies to be adopted to achieve results, Kromah said his agency has done some feasibility studies moving forward and that one of the main areas being considered is to check the source of the inflow of the illicit drugs, with keen look at the traffickers.

He said the agency has decided to look at the prevalence of drugs by region and found out that the Western part of the country has been the boiling points of illicit drug inflows in the country.

He lamented the lack of adequate budgetary support to the agency which has impaired its operations. Kromah said because the lack of funding has stalled most of their operations, the agency had to strategize and put high premium on intelligence gathering and enlisted volunteerism as a way to make its work easily.

“Because we have been focusing on intelligence gathering and leveraging on the volunteerism we are getting from some communities, the initiatives have impacted on reducing the supply of the drugs and we will gradually move to rehabilitation. We look forward to getting the necessary funding so that we get most of our projects through because the combat against drugs is something that must not be compromised”, Kromah said.

Kromah said as a robust way of confronting the drug menace, the agency had envisaged on both the adjudication of drug cases and also investing resources into rehabilitation of drug users the agency had identified. “Unfortunately, we are now focusing on adjudicating cases and not rehabilitation because of lack of funding”

He lauded his team and the initiatives placed on intelligence gathering which, according to him was backed by a vigorous re-enforcement which has resulted into a significant progress in cutting supply of dangerous drugs such as Kush in communities.

“Some time ago in the ghettos, raps of Kush were sold for LD100 which showed that the products could be found everywhere in communities but for now it is being sold at LD200 signifying scarcity of the products.

“For us that is the perimeter, the yardstick that we are turning the curve on the fight against drugs abuse, causing scarcity on the market”, Kromah said.

Kromah also said his agency was able to get in contact with their counterparts in Sierra Leone and they were able to exchange intelligence and information gathering mechanism, extolling the synergy and looked forward to consolidating the gains made by both countries in their fight against illicit drugs.

“We got calls from the new DEA director in Sierra Leone, who is a general in the Sierra Leonean army, called upon us to have a conversation on how we can make progress towards achieving the objectives, we shared ideas together, he will be coming to Liberia and I will make the first visit to Sierra Leone so as to consummate the partnership”, Kromah said.

He also used the occasion to mention about a special operation led by Agent Clarence Clark that led to the arrest of a Nigerian drug trafficker who had a firm control over the Bushrod Island market called George Obi but using a Liberian passport under Liberian identity and confiscation of a number of drugs he was trading in.

He said already the arrest has been sending positive signs that the zero tolerance for drug trafficking by his institution has led to scarcity of the dangerous products on the market in Bushrod Island, a situation which he said will be pursued with vigor.

Towards the end of his briefing, he called on the government to prioritize funding the institution so as to meet its objectives.

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