The Liberia Revenue Authority through its Customs Department has seized a huge quantity of substandard pharmaceutical products smuggled in to the country. The substandard pharmaceutical products including Vitamin C, Vitamin B-2, Cold Caps and Amoxicillin among others, were concealed in 18-boxes on-board three Guinean commercial buses. The medicines, valued at US$10,000, were discovered by officers of the LRA Anti-Smuggling & Investigation Unit (ASIU) after a thorough search of the Guinean commercial buses that brought the products to Liberia. The buses were intercepted following a tip-off from Customs informant.
The medicines were illegally imported into Liberia through the Liberian-Sierra Leonean border post at Bo Waterside in Grand Cape Mount County by four individuals who are not licensed to import medicines. The seizure is part of an on-going regional customs enforcement operation under the auspices of the World Customs Organization (WCO) code name “Cripharm V” which is targeted at combating the illicit flow of pharmaceutical products.
Meanwhile, the LRA has turned over the seized medicines to the Liberia Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Authority (LMHRA) for onward inter-agency coordination and action. Speaking during the presentation of the products to the LMHRA, Assistant LRA Commissioner for Customs Enforcement Blamo Kofa said the Authority remains committed to facilitating legitimate trade while ensuring the protection of the people of Liberia. He said even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the LRA remains vigilant in carrying outs its mandate relative to cross border trade and ensuring social protection for the people of Liberia.
The Managing Director of the LMHRA Keturah Smith thanked the LRA for the seizure, describing it as laudable. She called for more collaboration between governmental agencies with the aim to ensure the protection of the health of citizens by working together to eliminate illegal importation of medicines and other harmful products into the country.
In a related development, the LRA Anti-Smuggling Unit recently intercepted a 20-foot Container with Hazardous Chemical (Sulphuric Acid) imported from the Netherlands without permit and in violation of Liberia General Business Law and the Environmental Protection and Management Law. The March 28, 2020 response and seizure were triggered by an alert from Customs Risk Management Unit and is also part of an on-going Customs regional enforcement operations under the auspices of the World Customs Organization (WCO) code name Alamba 2020, targeted at combating the illicit flow of precursor chemicals used to produce Improved Explosive Devices (IED’s). Imported by York Trading Inc, the dangerous chemical was turned over the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).