We have been inundated with phone calls and emails since the publication of our Thursday, lead story, in which we reported that the newly hired Gambian Youths and Sports Minister Hendry Gomez, was jailed for two years back in 1987, by a German court on charges of cocaine and marijuana possession. The story has attracted a heated reaction from the Gambian community in Germany, and across the globe. Many were shocked to learn that the new government of President Adama Barrow, has hired a drug convict, who was running the streets in Hamburg by selling cocaine and marijuana.

Some of the callers, who spoke on condition of anonymity admitted that they used to hang out with Mr. Gomez at Reeperbahn, a nightlife entertainment street situated in Hamburg, Germany. Gomez, they said, was a drug dealer before his recent home return to take up employment with the new government.

Mr. Hendry Gomez, is the leader of the opposition Gambia Party for Democracy and Progress (GPDP). He registered his political during former dictator Yahya Jammeh’s rule. He has been living in Germany, while heading a virtually dormant party in The Gambia.

A Gambian German national, who phoned us late Thursday evening said: “I must admit that your story on Hendry Gomez is accurate. Hendry and I used to hang out at the “Reeperbahn Baiyee” to sell dope. Hendry lives in Reeperbahn. His home is not far from the street where drug dealers converged to sell cocaine and marijuana. He lives one street from the Reeperbahn Baiyee. It’s like someone living in Lancaster street, and Gloucester is Reeperbahn. I remember back in 2015, both Hendry and myself, were picked up by the German police and taken to the station for questioning. I was later released, but I left Gomez at the station. That street has been notorious for drug peddling. Police occasionally arrest anyone found loitering around the Reeperbahn street. Hendry Gomez, spends most of his time with us at the Baiyee.”

“I am really disappointed at the new government. That such a man with such a criminal rap sheet could be hired as a Minister. It is just absurd. I am flabbergasted. The police station is Gomez’s second home. He is a familiar face to the Reeperbahn police. Some of the boys engaged in drug peddling knew him well. If a man, who used to sell drugs in Germany, can be appointed a Minister, then I fear for the future of my country. Gomez’s appointment should be rescinded. I am sure the German authorities would be equally shocked to learn that a man, who used to walk in and out police custody is today’s Gambia’s Youths and Sports Minister. I decided to call you to add my input about what I know about Gomez. I used to hang out at his home,” the caller added.

The caller recalled Gomez, travelling to the Gambia with a lot of cash after making a fortune allegedly from a drug consignment he sold some years ago. This was the time he first announced to form a political party to oppose the former regime of Yahya Jammeh, he said.

Another caller admitted that it is true Mr. Gomez had a rough past with the German police, but he said, he couldn’t understand why should people snitched on him at this hour. He questioned the sincerity of some of the folks speaking out now.

“I know Hendry very well. He used to live here in Hamburg. I am not defending him. What is reported is true. But my question is: Why didn’t they expose Hendry, before his Ministerial appointment? I am not disputing the fact that he was jailed on drug related possession and sale, but I strongly questioned the motive of those exposing him at this hour,” he said.

 A concerned mother, who wrote to the Freedom Newspaper said: “I am a woman of few words, and I have spoken with you in the past about issues of concern going on in the Gambia. First, I want to commend you for your bravery and persistent reporting on all matters of the Gambia and immense contribution towards changing dictator Yahya Jammeh’s government. So, thank you Pa, for your professionalism.” 

“With that said, I will like to express my utter disbelief regarding the appointment of Hendry Gomez, as Youth and Sports Minister. I am a mother of three, two sons and a daughter, and have more than a dozen nieces and nephews. Most of them under 18 years old. Some of my nephews play soccer/football. In my capacity as mom/aunty, I am deeply concern about having a former drug pusher directing programs that impact our young people in the Gambia.  If the allegations about Mr. Gomez are true, he should be replaced immediately, and his criminal past should be looked into thoroughly,” she added.

The concerned mother called on the Barrow government to hire Gambians with clean bill of criminal history. She said the likes of Gomez should not be allowed to occupy public office.  

“We need clean honest Gambians to serve as role models to our children, and certainly an ex-criminal like Mr. Gomez, does not fit the bill.  Lastly, the Barrow administration must exercise caution when hiring and make sure candidates are fully vetted prior to being hired, particularly Gambians from the diaspora. We love the diaspora but there are rotten apples amongst us,” she concluded.

The reaction followed, a story we published on Thursday, in which a concerned Gambia residing in Germany, claimed that he (himself) was arrested together with Hendry Gomez and four others back in 1987, following a raid conducted by the German police to bust drug pushers in a drug infested neighborhood called “Reeperbahn.”

“I am a concerned Gambian. I feel that I owe it to my country, and her people, by explaining Hendry Gomez’s past criminal history in Hamburg, Germany. I know Mr. Gomez to my fingertips. Hendry, and I, used to hussle in the streets of Hamburg. We used to sell drugs together. I can vividly remember in 1987, when the German police raided a drug peddling location in which Hendry Gomez, four other Gambians, including myself, were taken into custody. Mr. Gomez was caught with some grams of cocaine and marijuana. I was caught with some grams of marijuana too. We were booked at a remand jail in Hamburg, before we were finally taken to prison. Hendry Gomez, the guy President Adama Barrow, appointed as Youths and Sports Minister, was jailed for two years in prison, while my humble self was jailed for one year and six months. Both Hendry Gomez, and myself, were placed on probation after serving our time in prison,” he alleged while speaking in local Wollof dialect.  

“I couldn’t believe it when I read in the news that Mr. Gomez, is the new Minister of Youths and Sports. Gambians do not know Hendry Gomez. He is uneducated; dodgy, and clueless. He had a criminal history in Germany.  The German police had his criminal record,” he said.

“Hence, I decided to come forward to register my disdain and utter opposition against his appointment. Gambians do not deserve someone who was jailed in Germany on drug related possession and sale as their Minister. Hendry, was a familiar face to the German police back in 1987, to the 90s. Both him and I, used to be processed by the police. We used to sell drugs in Hamburg,” he further alleged.

After finishing his probation, Gomez, he said, was hired as a cleaner at a train station in Hamburg. He later quitted his job and set up a cleaning company.

“Hendry Gomez, later left the streets and set up a cleaning business. He has hired some Gambians in Hamburg. The business later collapsed. The last time I checked, I was told that he has resumed running the streets. I do not have any evidence to that effect. All I can tell you is that Hendry Gomez, was jailed in 1987, for drug possession and sale. From 1987, to the nineties, we used to sell drugs together at “Reeperbahn” in Hamburg,” he alleged.

According to the concerned Gambian, Hendry Gomez, was married to a German lady called “ Marena.” Gomez and Marena never had a child, he said.

“During our 1987 arrest, and subsequent jailing, we later received information that one white German lady, who was married to a Gambian national at the time, reported us to the police. I do not want to go into detail. Let confine the conversation to Gomez’s past. Mr. Gomez cannot deny that he was not jailed for two years in Hamburg. If he does, I will come out in the open to reveal my identity. Gomez knows who is talking. The other four convicts are now back in the Gambia. Some were even deported. I have been in Germany for over 30 years. I am 60 years of age,” he said.

When asked about Gomez’s legal status in Germany, the Hamburg resident, who claimed to be Gomez’s neighbor said: “Gomez is a legal German resident. He is not a German citizen. He has been living here for over two decades. He was married to a German, but later got divorced. I used to hang out at his home. He also comes to my home.”

In another development, another Gambian resident in Germany, has promised to feed us with information about Gomez, in coming hours. He said he is privy to a lot of information about the newly hired Minister. We will keep our readers posted with developments. 

Mr. Hendry Gomez could not be reached for immediate comment. 

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