Court Sentences Two Nigerians for Drug Trafficking

KAKATA, Margibi – The 13th Judicial Circuit Court, in Kakata has sentenced two Nigerians to ten and five years in prison respectively, for unlicensed importation, distribution, and trafficking distribution of controlled substance.

The two Nigerians were arrested by Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency officers at the Roberts International Airport in Margibi in 2016 after they were found with cocaine.

On March 9, Judge Mardea Chenoweth sentenced Toni Mendes, 35, to ten years in prison after a unanimous guilty verdict was brought down against him by the trial jurors.

Mendes was arrested with 137 hair brushes and combs containing 2,368 grams of cocaine valued at US$167,000.

Mendes, a Nigerian carrying a Guinea Bissauan passport, was arrested in August 2016 after his bag was searched and found with the illegal drug substance distributed in assorted female hair products. He had claimed to be on a business trip from Brazil to Liberia.

In his testimony to state security officers, Mendes admitted to his involvement in the illegal drug trade in order to provide support to his Liberian fiancé who is pregnant in Brazil but he failed to cooperate with the public prosecutor, which pushed the state to pursue a guilty verdict.

The other individual receiving a guilty verdict, Stephen Karmusee, was sentenced to five years in jail after admitting to the crime.

Karmusee, also from Nigeria, was also arrested last year at Roberts International Airport after he was found to have swallowed 40 lumps of cocaine by LDEA officers.

He told the court that he was a medical student in Brazil and his involvement in the deal was meant to pay his tuition fees.

Speaking in a brief interview with reporters following the guilty verdict, LDEA’s deputy director general for operations, Benedict Johnson, said the verdict was a victory for the sacrifices the LDEA is making to curb drug offenses in Liberia.

He pleaded with the Legislature to make drug-related crimes non-bailable in order to deter future offenders.

Featured photo by Emmanuel Degleh

Emmanuel Degleh

Emmanuel has over a decade of experience working as a community radio broadcaster. He is the Margibi correspondent for the Liberia Broadcasting System and currently the acting president of the Margibi Journalist Association. Emmanuel is also a member of the Press Union of Liberia and a 2016 Internews Health Journalism Fellow.

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