By Ishmael Bayoh
The Sierra Leone Ambassador to Senegal, Alhaji Brima Elvis Koroma has confirmed the arrest of 87 Sierra Leoneans in Dakar, Senegal.
The Ambassador said he was informed on Wednesday 24th June 2020 that the Faidherbe Police Search Brigade in Dakar arrested and dismantled a vast network of migrants of Sierra Leonean origin on the largest trail of human trafficking in the country.
Among the 87 apprehended, there were 72 women and 15 men.
The Senegalese police said two ring leaders of this criminal enterprise were picked up on June 5th, 2020 whilst the third is still on the run. When the police were informed about the presence of a large group of foreigners in the outskirts of Dakar they were placed under surveillance for 20 days tracing their movements and actions.
The victims paid between $600 to $700 equivalent to 350.000 to 400,000 cfa.
The police were able to locate three houses in Diamaniodio, Medina and Malika. All three houses were found to have housed close to 35 migrants.
This is not the first time Sierra Leoneans have been arrested in Senegal. Last year, 17 Sierra Leoneans were repatriated courtesy of the Sierra Leone Embassy which paid the bills to the tune of $5,000 USD.
In early March 2020, another 23 Sierra Leoneans were arrested for the same crime.
“Due to the good bilateral relations between the two countries, the Ambassador pleaded with the authorities to release them with the understanding that they should never be involved in such a dangerous venture,” Ambassador Koroma said.
Ambassador Koroma said the “Embassy was in total shock to learn about the arrest of Sierra Leoneans of this magnitude.”
“Since the borders are still closed, the Embassy is in contact with the authorities and they have agreed to place them under house arrest not in prison till further notice.”
The network of traffickers operates on three levels. The first level is in Sierra Leone where the recruitment is done. The second level when the victims are brought to Senegal through Guinea by road. Upon arrival in Senegal, the Senegalese agent provides accommodation and all the necessary documentation through another agent residing in the Gulf countries.
The third level is to airlift them with the collaboration of some police personnel through the Blaise Diagne International Airport in Dakar for an unknown destination.