Sierra Leone holds 7 churchmen for drug

FREETOWN - Police in Sierra Leone have arrested a born-again Nigerian reverend and six of his followers after a large quantity of cocaine and other illegal drugs were found in their possession, state radio said on Sunday.

The radio said the drugs were discovered during a police swoop at the churchmen's Freetown house near the compound of the Celestial Church of Christ in Sierra Leone.

Police sources said Reverend Michael Savage and his disciples, who are also Nigerian nationals, were suspected of drug trafficking.

"The arrest of the seven religious men followed information that Reverend Michael Savage and the six others have been carrying out drug trafficking from Nigeria to Sierra Leone and from Sierra Leone to Western countries," one source said.

Police believe the seven used a business selling imported mobile phones and spare parts for cars and refrigerators as a smokescreen for their illegal activities in the West African country, where traffickers of all sorts thrive thanks to a decade-long civil war.

"Then on Sundays and some weekdays they would dress in their white robes and walk bare-footed as priests," the source said.