Perry Dolo had it made. He was one of the personal bodyguards for President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a Nobel prize-winning leader. Unfortunately, he decided to use his position to use “Escort 1”, the President’s so-named private Jeep, to smuggle in nearly 300 KG of pot from neighboring Sierra Leone. Now Mr. Dolo will be left to face the wrath of the justice system.
Mr. Dolo had been working as the head of the President’s motorcade and thus had access to state vehicles. Apparently Mr. Dolo had a day off and decided he would use the state car to smuggle drugs across the border. After all, who would stop the President’s personal car? And how difficult would it be to argue that he was on “official” business? What Mr. Dolo didn’t know, however, was that he was being watched by the local DEA and was already suspected of being involved in illicit activities.
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Dolo along with three other men were arrested
Mr. Dolo, along with three other men, were arrested by members of the Emergency Response Unit and taken into custody. It is believed that at least one of the other three members of the group is a member of the Sierra Leonean military. The four are now being held in custody but local officials expect them to be prosecuted quickly.
Marijuana remains a serious problem for countries across Africa. Limited resources make drug enforcement nearly impossible, and the cannabis plant is grown widely across the region. The United Nations estimates that as many as 10% of local high school students in Liberia smoke pot. Data is limited, however, so the actual number could be much higher.
CIA estimates that 85% of Liberians are unemployed
Perhaps more important in regards to this case was the willingness of Mr. Dolo to use his official position to try and line his pockets. His position as the head of the President’s motorcade was a high ranking position, and something that would be coveted in a country with an unemployment rate of 85%. No, that’s not a typo: the CIA estimates that 85% of Liberians are unemployed.
This case also demonstrates the increasing willingness of African governments to step up and fight corruption. That being said, even Nobel Laureate and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has been accused of corruption and nepotism, demonstrating just how difficult it can be to fight such issues in countries like Liberia.
With the economy in the gutter, people often have little choice but to turn to crime and illicit activities to earn an income. With only 8% of the labor force employed in industries, 22% in services, and 70% employed in agriculture, even those few people who are employed still face limited prospects. Corruption and crime in such environments may be all but unavoidable as many people have precious few other choices. Of course, Mr. Dolo actually had a good job and by the looks of it, he won’t be keeping it.