Benghazi Criminal Court Issues Death Sentences to Syrian Drug Traffickers – Al Marsad

The Benghazi Criminal Court issued its verdict on the case of a dangerous Syrian drug smuggling network using Libyan seaports after a drug shipment that the gang tried to bring into the country was seized in the port of Benghazi. The case, however, was registered against persons unknown.

[Libya, 25 August 2019] – The court sentenced death penalties to four defendants on Saturday and published a summary of the verdict in the newspapers of Benghazi, Barniq, and al-Aadala, in two consecutive issues of each newspaper, at the expense of the convicts. The court obliged the convicts to pay the expenses of the case, according to the Libyan News Agency of the Interim Government.

A statement published by the Intelligence Service in Derna on Saturday confirmed that the seized drugs have been impounded on probable cause by the Public Prosecution. Benghazi Criminal Court also issued another verdict acquitting three other defendants in the same case.

The Derna branch of the intelligence agency pointed out that the crime, which was uncovered by the Benghazi Customs Directorate, goes back to 30 August last year, when 14 tons of hashish were seized. The authorities did not immediately identify the gang members and were unable to arrest them, so the case has been registered against persons unknown.

The Intelligence Service of Derna branch explained that on 13 December 2018 the unknown gang formation attempted to smuggle 10 tons of cannabis hidden in containers on a ship coming from the Syrian port of Latakia. The Customs Department, however, managed to seize it and handed it over to a brigade, affiliated with the 106 Battalion of the General Command of the Libyan National Army (LNA), to dispose and burn the shipment. ِThe case was closed and the culprits remained at large.

The Intelligence Service added that due to the rigorous procedures adopted by the customs authority regarding commodities and shipments originating from the port of Latakia, the members of the gang resorted to another trick that depended on the fact that the Benghazi seaport did not have any devices to detect what was inside the walls and floors of the containers.

However, the Greek authorities intercepted and seized a ship from the port of Latakia in Syria en route to the port of Benghazi loaded with containers found under its floors with tons of cannabis and millions of Captagon pills worth more than one hundred million euros.

The Intelligence Service pointed out that the Directorate of Investigations of Benghazi intensified investigations and information gathering, and thoroughly revised the documents of shipping and clearance of goods in the port, as well as shipments of goods of Syrian origin, and prepared a list of traders who regularly receive or distribute Syrian commodities and products.

Investigations found that a Syrian gang was renting a large warehouse in the Benghazi industrial and residential neighborhood of Bouatni, where it operated under the cover of transporting and storing goods, to hide its criminal activities.

A force headed by the director of the Benghazi Customs Directorate and the head of the Information Committee formed a raiding group, with the support of an LNA brigade headed by Major Sleiman Marajih.

The force raided the warehouse and the residence of the suspects, where they found the containers that had already completed customs clearance procedures, in addition to huge amounts of hashish in the floors of the containers. The Benghazi Customs Directorate arrested the members of the drug trafficking ring.

The Derna branch of the Intelligence Service explained that the arrested persons confessed during the investigation of their involvement in trafficking drugs as mentioned in the facts of the case that was previously registered against persons unknown. The supporting files were submitted by the director of the Benghazi Customs Directorate to the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Benghazi after the Benghazi Customs Directorate presented conclusive and sufficient evidence, including confessions of the perpetrators of the crime.

© Al Marsad English (2019).