By: Fabakary B. Ceesay
The Trumpet Newspaper has intensified the investigation into the 48 blocks of cocaine found in the middle of a sugar container number MSKU 727796-5 in a consignment shipped into The Gambia by a Lebanese-Gambian business mogul Shyben A. Madi (SAM) and Sons limited, on 16 March 2015. The said sugar container was sold to a Mauritanian businessman whose labourers found the cocaine hidden in the middle of the container. The labourers were offloading the sugar when they found the cocaine sealed in white cello tapes in two traveling bags in the middle of the container.
The cocaine amounting to 49 kilograms was found in one of 35 containers shipped from the Port of Santos, Brazil, on the orders of Shyben A. Madi (SAM) and Sons Limited, from a company call ‘Bunge Agrictrade S.A’. The said shipment was done by “Biosev Bioenergia S.A” and certified by ”Inspectorate Do Brazil Inspecoes Ltda” on 2 February 2015. The ship docked at the Banjul International Seaport on 14 March 2015 on board vessel M/V Julius with voyage number 1503. Maerskline was the agent for the vessel and released the containers on delivery order number 74057. Shyben A. Madi has been doing business with ”Bunge Agrictrade” in Brazil, since July 2013. This consignment was the third deal between the two companies.
According to the findings of our investigation, Shyben A. Madi (SAM) and Sons Ltd, signed a contract number S03072 with ‘’Bunge Agrictrade S.A’’ for the supply of 3,780 metric tons of Brazilian white crystal sugar to be supplied in four consignments of 35x20ft containers per shipment between the periods of 1 January 2015 to 31 March 2015. The bill of lading number 754590111 was issued by the shipper ”Biosev Bioenergia S.A’‘ and notified SAM about the arrival date in Banjul. On 13 March 2015, SAM paid D2, 512 ,421.00 as Custom duties. After offloading the consignment from the vessel, one of the containers was sold to a Mauritanian businessman Sheriff Muhammed Salem.
Our sources revealed that on 16 March 2015, Limam Hamoud, a store keeper, Mahmud Babou, Essa Jarra and Salifu Trawally, labourers of Sheriff Muhammed Salem in the presence of two agents of Shyben A. Madi, were offloading the sugar at the warehouse of Mr. Salem at Picton Street when they came across two traveling bags with contents that look like packets of cello tape hidden inside the container. They informed Mr. Salem who asked them to stop the offloading process until he gets in touch with the Sales Manager of his supplier (SAM). Mr. Salem insisted that the said substance found were not part of his goods.
Sources indicated that on the orders of Muhammed Salem, SAM Custom Clearing Clerk Biran Njeen Marong, came and collected the two bags and took it to his boss Mr. Peter Aziz who was the Senior Office Manager for SAM at the time. Sources added that Mr. Aziz also informed the company Managing Director Mr. Geroge Madi who was in England at the time. He explained the incident to Mr. Madi who asked him to consult the company lawyer Aziz Bensouda. Our investigation also found out that Mr. Peter Aziz has left the company shortly after the drug catch.
After consultation with lawyer Bensouda, they were advised to report the matter to the Drug Law Enforcement Agency (DLEAG), The Gambia. Senior DLEAG officers Mr. Ebrima Jim Drammeh Director of Operations and Mr. Edrissa Jobe then Director of Intelligence and Investigation, came to the scene to inspect the unknown 48 white blocks. It was tested by DLEAG scientific officer Mr. Pa Samba Bojang and an analytical report by Medical and Health Department confirmed the presence of prohibited drug cocaine in all the 48 blocks.
By the time of the incident, the two senior managers of the company George and Charles Madi were not in the country and refused to surrender themselves to the investigators for questioning. Even though, the negotiation and ordering of goods by the company was the responsibility of Deputy General Manager Mr. Charles Madi with the approval of his father Mr. George Madi Senior.
Our investigation indicated that this particular consignment was negotiated, finalised and contracted by Charles Madi in a telephone conversation with ‘Bunge’ representative in Brazil on 12 December 2014. However, when the local investigators and DLEAG team contacted both George and Charles Madi they responded in a signed letter by George indicating that they are not planning to return to The Gambia anytime soon because they were busy in a legal process in the United Kingdom.
The United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) was also invited by DLEAG. Our sources further stated that DEA were not involved in the investigation and interrogation of the witnesses instead they only assisted in analysing and tracing the source of the cocaine to determine which cartel own it.
Who is Shybena A. Madi and Sons Limited.
The Madi family has been operating business in The Gambia since 1 January 1890 by Charles Victor Madi and George Madi. The Company was registered under its current name as a limited liability in 1973. The company trade extends within the West African sub region with businesses in Senegal, Mali, Guinea, Mauritania and Guinea Bissau.
The Company is one of the largest and oldest commodity suppliers in The Gambia. They are engaged in importing large quantities of rice, sugar, wheat flour, tomato paste, cooking oil, milk powder, evaporated milk, mayonnaise, sardines, cigarettes, candles, auto mobile business and construction.
At the time of the drug catch, the company has four Directors and shareholders namely Mr. Geroge S. Madi, Mrs. Sarmen R. Gomez Madi, George Madi junior and Charles Victor S. Madi.
The company has eleven properties within the Greater Banjul Area some of whom are residential and business purposes whiles others are rented out to other people. During the course of the investigation, all the properties were visited by the panel of investigators in the presence of their lawyer Aziz Bensousda before they were shut down pending the outcome of the investigation and the legal opinion about the matter.