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25.10.2008 General News

Fanti Kenkey Turns Wee•At Kotoka

By Daily Guide

Two hundred and forty parcels at the Aviance Cargo Handling Section at Kotoka International Airport in Accra ostensibly containing foodstuff and destined for the United Kingdom which turned out to be stuffed with Indian hemp have been impounded by officials of the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS).

The exporter and a driver have fled fearing they would be arrested for questioning.

The detection was made by officials of the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) after discovering something unusual on the evening of Thursday.

Fifty-three boxes containing the narcotic stuff laced with foodstuff like plantain and kenkey have been impounded by CEPS officials.

A subsequent search of the containers revealed 50 boxes weighing 664 kg with 240 parcels of well packaged items purported to be foodstuff.

The 240 parcels turned out to be 192 slabs of compressed dried leaves, 40 plastic bowls containing a honey-like substance and 8 cylindrical plastics also containing a honey-like substance which later tested positive for cannabis but negative for cocaine upon examination by the Unit Head of the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB) at Aviance.

The items, which were bound for the United Kingdom, were impounded through the vigilance of the CEPS officer at the repackaging section of Aviance, who suspected the movement of the vehicle that brought the boxes onto the field.

The Chief Collector of CEPS in charge of Narcotic   Investigations, Nana Egyin Boadu, told newsmen that the exporter was not at the scene of impoundment.

However, one Kennedy Biney, who was the agent, would be invited to help with investigations, he said.

He noted that the driver of the vehicle who sensed danger when the goods were being scrutinised quickly sped off leaving the goods behind.

The agent, he said, had then not started any documentation on the goods which were considered to be foodstuffs.

Nana Egyin Boadu noted that their efforts suffered a setback because they were unable to obtain the particulars of the exporter including the registration number of the vehicle. He was however optimistic that the exporter would be traced.

He expressed concern about the absence of scanners at their outfit but said there were frantic efforts to acquire the gadgets which he hoped would further help reduce the incidence of drug trafficking at KIA.

The Head of Export at Aviance, Dorothy Arhin, said the exporter did not follow the due process of export since there was no documentation on the items which were brought straight to the field without going through laid down procedures. As a result, she added, there was no permit from her outfit permitting the impounded cargo to be processed for export.

Ms. Arhin could however not disclose the airline which was scheduled to transport the goods but intimated that the foodstuffs would be valued and auctioned as investigations continued.

An official of NACOB told DAILY GUIDE that the honey-like substance was finely processed cannabis mixed with oil and could be used as bread spread or taken with other eateries.

He said though it looked like honey it did not contain a single drop of honey.  

By Rocklyn Antonio