27 February 2013

Ghana: $12 Million Cocaine Men in Court

The two Nigerians, who allegedly imported cocaine concealed in a cosmetic cargo, were yesterday brought before an Accra Fast Track High Court and detained over the accusation leveled against them.

The accused persons, James Elekechukwu, 47, and Sunny Ekechukwu Benji Eke, 53, are alleged to have conspired and conceal 200 kilogrammes of cocaine, with a street value of $12 million in a 40-footer cargo container loaded with cosmetics.

James Elekechukwu, who is a second hand cloth dealer, was arrested in Weija, when he was in the process of taking delivery of the goods, while Sunny Ekechukwu Benji Eke was arrested at the Accra Mall by officials of the Narcotic Control Board (NACOB), upon a tip off.

The Elekechukwu was said to have in his possession GH¢2,150 -while Benji Eke was having USD18, 700; CFA 180,000; 3,945 Naira and GH¢680 in his possession, during their arrest, which were retrieved by the authorities.

Both accused persons are facing charges of conspiracy, importation of narcotic drug without authority and possession of narcotic drug before the court, presided over by Justice Mustapha Habib Logoh.

Their pleas have not yet been taken and they are expected to re-appear before the court on March 12, 2013.

The underling facts are that during December 2012, NACOB, through its foreign counterparts, received intelligence that a cargo, said to contain a quantity of cosmetics, was heading to the Tema Harbour from Bolivia and was suspected to contain some narcotic substances.

The State Attorney, Asiamah Sarpong told the court that on January 29, 2013, the said cargo, which was shipped in a 40-footer container number MRK 257478-45 GI -belonging to the MAESRK Shipping Lines and consigned to the De Consumables Lines Limited, docked at the Tema Harbour and officers of NACOB, who were on alert, immediately mounted surveillance on it.

He said on February 11, 2012, two clearing agents and a witness in the case arrived with the necessary documents to clear the goods.

According to him, the container, which arrived with seal number NL 014986 intact, according to an inspection of the import documents, revealed that it was built to contain 22 pellets of assorted cosmetics.

However, the prosecutor stated that when it was opened for physical examination in the presence of the agent, 33 cartons, containing a total of 174 green bottle of liquid substance suspected to be cocaine were concealed in surgical gloves.

The clearing agent denied knowledge of the alleged narcotic drug in the cargo, but one of the agent told the investigator that the first accused person, a second hand cloth dealer, who is her client, introduced the second accused person to her as an importer of cosmetic products and who wanted his goods cleared for him, the prosecutor told the court.

The prosecutor, therefore, emphasized that the witness noted that she was subsequently persuaded with the necessary document in her office by the first and second accused persons, who formerly engaged her to clear cargo for them.

Mr. Asiamah Sampong, told the court that further investigations led to the current arrest of the first accused person at Aplaku junction, Weija, when he attempted to take delivery of the cargo.

The state attorney again recounted that the first accused person admitted introducing the second accused person as the owner of the container, narrating that sometimes in 2011, the second accused person informed the first accused person about his desire to import cosmetic products from South America to Ghana.

The first accused, the prosecutor pointed out, continued that he assisted the second accused person to register the company De- Consumables limited at the Registrar General's Department, adding that in December 2012, the second accused person came to him with import documents of cargo, which was on high seas from Bolivia to Tema Port.

"On February 21, 2013, the first accused person identified the second accused to NACOB authorities at the Accra Mall after he was lured into the country from Nigeria through investigation.

"He admitted jointly importing a cargo of cosmetic with the first accused person and an accomplice currently at large. The second accused person blamed the first accused person and two others for concealing the alleged cocaine in the cargo", the prosecutor told the court.

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