Senegal police chief sacked over drug trafficking claims

Impounded containers of cocaine. A drug trafficking scandal engulfing Senegal's police chief has had the country in its throes for weeks. 

Senegal's top police chief and former drug buster is suspected of drug trafficking and was dismissed from his job Thursday as police launched an investigation, the government said.

Government spokesman Abdou Latif Coulibaly said it would have been "improper" to leave an officer of Abdoulaye Niang's position in his functions when he will be questioned by the police.

Mr Niang, who headed Senegal's anti-drug trafficking unit Ocrtis for years, was replaced as police chief by Anna Semou Faye, who was previously in charge of coordinating the government's anti-drug policies.

The case made huge headlines in Senegal, leading the cabinet to dismiss the police chief after President Macky Sall was given a full report.

Senegalese press reports said Mr Niang's successor at the Ocrtis unit, Cheikh Sadibou Keita, was accusing his predecessor of being implicated in the resale of drugs with the complicity of Nigerian traffickers.

But the government spokesman called Mr Keita's specific allegations "lies" after an internal investigation.

Mr Keita left the anti-drug unit a few weeks ago and may face sanctions, he added.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) more than 20 major drug hauls were carried out in all of West Africa — mainly at sea — between 2005 and 2007, totalling thousands of kilos of cocaine, more than 11 tonnes in 2007 alone.

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