Editorial: Justice Minister Frank Musa Dean should stop crying “Crocodile Tears” and do the needful

ON THURSDAY, MAY 18, Liberians and the world were shock when a 12-man jury panel listening to the US$100 million cocaine case rendered a not guilty verdict in favor of all defendants.

THE DEFENDANTS, MALAM Conte (Guinea-Bissau national), Adulai Djibril (Portuguse), Issam Makki (Lebanese) and Oliver Zayzay (Liberian) were charged with money laundering, unlicensed possession of controlled drugs, unlicensed importation of controlled drugs, and criminal conspiracy.

Gustavo Henrique (Brazilian) was tried in absentia.

IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE verdict, Justice Minister Frank Musa Dean Jr. issued a damning criticism in a statement, saying the verdict undermines the collective efforts of Liberia and its international coalition to clamp down on the illegal transit of illicit drugs using West Africa as the conduit to trade narcotics internationally from Latin America and elsewhere.

HE SAID IT BECOMES worrisome and shameful as in the case of the recent verdict, for the courts to be setting hardcore criminals free when the evidence is overwhelming in the face of international security collaboration that tracked and brought the perpetrators of this heinous crime before the law. 

WE, AT K-NEWS see the statement of Minister Dean, a seasoned lawyer and chief government prosecutor, as insincere and face-saving. This is because the prosecution of the case by the Government of Liberia was marred by flawed. 

And this is why.

IN OCTOBER LAST YEAR, a huge consignment of 520-kilogram drugs with a street value of about US$100 million was seized by the Joint Security of Liberia through an international security collaboration involving American and Brazilian authorities.

THE MINISTRY OF Justice through its Minister is charged with the responsibility to indict individuals who are alleged of committing crimes.

EXERCISING THAT POWER, the Ministry indicted five people as mentioned previously for being behind the importation of the illicit substance.

HOWEVER, THE MINISTRY decided to leave out, what we, and many believe to be one of the prime suspects, that is the consignee or owner of the container that brought the cocaine into the country – TRH Trading Corporation.

TRH TRADING CORPORATION is part of AJA- Group Holdings, a conglomeration of ABI Jaoudi & Fresh Frozen Food.

WE, AT K-NEWS, LIKE majority of the public, still don’t get it why the Government opted to leave TRH out of the entire proceedings.

WE BELIEVE THAT some of the charges, “money laundering, unlicensed possession of controlled drugs, unlicensed importation of controlled drugs, and criminal conspiracy” also apply to TRH, especially “unlicensed possession of controlled drugs and unlicensed importation” of controlled drugs since the substance was found in the entity’s container.

WE ARE CONVINCED that by leaving TRH Trading Corporation – whose container was used to bring the cocaine to Liberia, out of the entire proceedings, the Government undermined its chances of winning the case.

WE LISTENED TO defendant Malem Conte, when he informed the jury that upon his arrival to receive the container, he noticed strange behavior from the manager. He said the manager of TRH, after receiving a call, refused to deliver the container to him.

K-NEWS ALSO heard Conte mentioning that Henrique Gustavo, his business partner (who was tried in absentia) told him that the goods he was to collect from TRH belong to a “hand in the government” who intended to use its proceeds to run campaign for the upcoming elections.

WE ALSO LISTENED to testimonies of two important witnesses: Mr. James Hinneh of the Custom Brokers Association of Liberia and Mr. Othello Garblah, publisher of the New Dawn Newspaper.

THE TWO MEN testified that TRH Trading Corporation is given a free pass by the Government of Liberia to import goods to Liberia without inspection.


“Basically, in any given situation criminals will exploit any weak system in this case Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) has admitted that TRH had been given certain privileges allowing them to clear their goods/ consignment of containers under such arrangement which is using mere invoices or bill landing. Therefore, any criminal knowing such a system could exploit the same.

“Before the arrival of the container, the Global Maritime Tracking Solution which tracks shipments across the globe informed that the container with the US$ 100 million cocaine was subjected to physical inspection but it was ignored”

“Any reasonable person would understand that such practice puts TRH- AJA Group Holdings right in the middle of the drug busts.

“In any civilized jurisdiction TRH would be treated as prime suspect and accomplice but government will have u believe that TRH is the victim.”

THEY ALSO MENTIONED that prior to the landing of the container carrying the drugs, the government was warned by the Global Maritime Solution Tracking System about the possibility of illicit drugs in that particular container.

IN ADDITION, MARITIME Commissioner, Eugene Lenn Nagbe, appearing on the state broadcaster, acknowledged that the National Port Authority (NPA) was warned, but ignored the warning.

MR. GARBLAH ALSO stated that in the wake of the arrest, another batch of unprocessed cocaine worth US$40 million was confiscated by the Liberian authorities.

THIS LATEST CATCH, according to Garblah, and as his paper reported, happened on Monday, January 30, 2023, by officers of the Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency (LDEA) after tipoff by a whistleblower.

THE LDEA ITSELF, through its Director Michael Zehyoue admitted that the second busted cocaine consignment was stashed in a frozen food warehouse at the Freeport of Monrovia that belongs to TRH Trading Corporation, was stocked in 11 cartoons weighing approximately 197 kilograms, valued at US$37,884,479.

NINE DAYS AFTER the second arrest (on Wednesday, February 8, 2023), the LDEA, the National Security Agency (NSA), and its collaborating partners witnessed the burning of drugs at the military barracks, the Barclay Training Center in Monrovia.

GARBLAH TOLD THE court that as in previous case, the latest consignment of drugs was concealed in a frozen food container owned by TRH at the Freeport of Monrovia.

HIS TESTIMONY CORROBORATED with the LDEA boss’ statement.

IN THE MIDST of all these revelations, we, at K-news are left wondering why the government did not call in TRH Trading Corps for questioning, but described the company during the trial as “Innocent Carrier” and whistle blower.

WE AND THE public demand to know what led to the government’s conclusion that TRH Trading Corps is an “Innocent carrier.” Did the government investigate the company? If so where, when, and how the investigation was conducted.

WHEN DID TRH Corporation become a whistleblower? Did it blow the whistle before the World Maritime Tracking System, or the United States Government before the first arrest?

DID TRH TRADING Corporation blow the whistle before the second arrest on January 30, 2023?

HAS THE MINISTRY of Justice established why TRH is being given a free pass?

HAS THE MINISTRY INVESTIGATED who authorized TRH not to undergo inspection at the Freeport of Monrovia?

HAS THE MINISTER ascertain how many businesses (both foreign and local) are given free pass at the Freeport of Monrovia and any other sea ports and airports in Liberia.

BEFORE DECLARING TRH Corporation an “Innocent Carrier,” did the Minister and his so-called prosecution team ask or even pinch themselves why TRH containers (and not any other company’s containers) were used to import US$140 million worth of cocaine into Liberia within the space of three months?

WE BELIEVE THESE and many more, are questions that the Ministry of Justice, which supervises the joint security, including the Liberia National Police (LNP) Liberia Drugs Enforcement Agency (LDEA) and the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS) should start answering.

BEFORE CRYING WOLF, we demand the Minister of Justice and Attorney general of the Republic of Liberia to exercise leadership and reorganize his prosecuting team to take the appropriate steps in ensuring those behind the importation these deadly narcotics substances into our shores are brought to justice.

IT WILL BE so disingenuous to our partners, especially the United States of America whose sophisticated intelligence was pivotal in successfully discovering the huge pile of cocaine on our shores.

IT WILL ALSO be an act of betrayal to all Liberians, especially thousands of our children, brothers and sisters who are not just victims of drug abuse, but who have been stigmatized and neglected by society.

IF THE GOVERNMENT has no answer to their problems, we believe the least it can do is to ensure those that are bringing these harmful substances that are destroying them are brought to justice, especially when the facts are glaring and evidence are all available.

THEREFORE, WE, AT K-NEWS, called on President George Manneh Weah to prevail on his Minister of Justice to stop crying “CROCODILE TEARS”, and put his team together to do the needful in ensuring those behind the importation of these illicit substances face justice.


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