BATTLE OF THE DRUG DEALERS (Part 1)

There’s a war going on at number 35 Lumley Street in the CBD of Freetown that no drug dealer is safe from. What started as a battle between longstanding drug dealing friends has spilled over to include all and sundry.

This house of pain, otherwise known as Bangkok, has made (and continues to make) billionaires of many Sierra Leoneans involved in the booming illegal drugs and drug dealing business across the country, with the trail of the many high ranking and Sierra Leoneans of all standings a jaw-dropping list of individuals including but not limited to State House, the Sierra Leone Police, party functionaries, immigration/customs, judiciary and other personnel.

As the years of addiction add up, and on a daily basis, the blood, sweat and tears of the drug users that fuel this trade in substances that are smuggled into the country continue to be spilled. At the end, young girls with promising futures are reduced to prostitution while young men resort to criminal activities to fund their habit. Short of kicking the habit, on a regular basis one would either hear of a long term user or an unfortunate addict turned thief or both succumbing to the end of the road for most of the people caught up in this subculture: death.

But after 14 years of selling drugs at this location of pain and misery where dreams are shattered on a daily basis, and making tens of billions of Leones, buying lands, cars and other properties or valuables, building houses, establishing businesses, sending relatives overseas and to schools, etc., this war between dealer and supplier could spell the end of the boom that is partly responsible for a lot of the bloodshed on our streets across the country. It could spell the end of a reliable and consistent source of income for many a rich and highly placed Sierra Leoneans, including their Nigerian overlords.

35 Lumley Street is the jewel of the drug dealing locations spread across Freetown from where many of the current corps of established and well known drug dealers got their start or introduction into this very lucrative career path in Freetown. The three way battle of the drug dealers have on one side a local drug dealing royalty, a Teflon Don of sorts on whose person no allegation, arrest or litigation sticks with alleged ties to State House and top police brass, and his ex-police officer uncle, together against their alleged Nigerian supplier, pastor, restaurant owner and logging businessman operating from the same Lumley Street location.

The Nigerian is allegedly the main supplier of narcotics substances for the ECOMOG Connection, a team of former Nigerian soldiers who relocated to Sierra Leone, which they consider virgin territory when it comes to drug use and dealing, after the country’s 11 year civil war. This exclusive team of former Nigerian soldiers controls the importation and distribution of illegal drugs in Sierra Leone including cocaine, crack cocaine (alias coco), heroin (alias Thailand or brown-brown), Tramadol and the most popular narcotic in the country, Kush.

Using front businesses such as restaurants, churches, schools, bars, nightclubs, salons, car or auto spare parts, hair and cosmetics, pharmacies, logging and many more such businesses, these Nigerian men operate in plain sight confident of the complicity of their highly placed and influential Sierra Leonean partners. As long as these local partners continue to get their cut, some of which they routinely collect from the drug cartels on Lumley Street and across Freetown, the drug dealing industry continues to thrive and remains alive and well.

So, with potentially tens of billions of Leones at stake, why is there a fight between the drug dealers? Why all the finger-pointing and name callings, accusations and counteraccusations? Why is it that not all drug dealers are affected? Why is it that when dealers are arrested with hard drugs by the police or related agencies their monies, drugs and other valuables are returned to them? Who benefits from and is involved in the drug trade? Who is protecting drug dealers? Who are the dedicated men and women that are seriously fighting organised crime in Sierra Leone? What becomes of their many victims, the men and women addicted to these drugs?

Follow Nightwatch newspaper over the following days for this exposé into drug dealing and use in Sierra Leone.

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