Child trafficking gang busted

The police at Kwesimintsim in the Western Region on Monday intercepted a 207 Mercedes Benz bus carrying six suspected child traffickers and 17 children said to have been picked from Garu in the Upper East Region for sale in Cote d'Ivoire.

According to the Daily Graphic, all the six men are in police custody, while the 17 children have been handed over to the Western Regional Office of the Department of Social Welfare.

The six suspects are George Laree, 20; Azuma Laree, 31; Jean Badu, 42; Combite Latie, 30; Najet Lamboni, 33, and Laree Lamboni, 37.

A patrol team of the Kwesimintsim Police, led by the District Commander, ASP Magnus Sam, said the bus was intercepted while it was conveying the suspects and the victims towards the Ghana-Cote d'Ivoire border at Elubo.

The team said the children were being taken to Cote d'Ivoire to work as labourers on cocoa farms.

The police said during interrogation, all the children appeared to have been coached as to what to tell the police and other, officials when questioned on where they were going and who they were travelling with.

The suspects denied knowledge of the children and said they had only boarded the same bus at the Kumasi Lorry Station and that they had never seen the children before.

But when the police took the suspects to where the children were and the children were asked, to identify whom they were travelling with, one of the suspects, Azuma Laree, who had changed his earlier statement and told the police that he was travelling with only one child, had six other children identifying him as the one with whom they were travelling:

Other suspects were identified by two or three of the children as those responsible for their trip.

However, some of the older ones, told the police that they were travelling on their own and initially refused to board the bus which had arrived to convey them to the Department of Social Welfare.

They demanded that the suspects, whom they claimed they did not know, should be released to go with them.

One of the children, a little girl of about seven, said she was travelling with Azuma Laree to Cote d'Ivoire to work as a baby sitter for a family in that country.

Speaking to the press after preliminary police interrogations, the Kwesimintsim District Police Crime Officer, ASP Boakye Ansah, said the bus conveying the suspects and the children was intercepted when it was branching off at Apemanim towards the Elubo Border.

"The leader of the team, who is also the District Commander of Kwesimintsim, became suspicious and demanded to know whom the children were travelling with and where they were going," he said.

ASP Boakye Ansah said there was no answer to the question and so he asked the driver to make a U-turn to the police station.

In a statement to the Police, the driver said his vehicle had not been hired and that he was at the station when the children came and bought the tickets and boarded the vehicle one by one.

The only passengers aboard the 207 bus were the suspects and the victims. According to the suspects, they were from Togo and were only passing through Garu to Cote d’Ivoire.

Source: Daily Graphic

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