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10.06.2013 General News

Ghanaian jailed in US for trafficking heroin

Ghanaian jailed in US for trafficking heroin

Zico, whose sentence is to be followed by five years of supervised release, has been ordered to forfeit $110,000.

According to court documents Zico was one of the ringleaders of a multi-kilogram heroin trafficking organisation in Ghana.

He was found guilty by a US court on January 25, this year, following a three-day trial, and sentenced on May 24, 2013 in Alexandria Virginia in the USA.

Zico was alleged to have been directly involved in several heroin shipments and directed the activities of previously convicted co-conspirators, Edmund Darkwah, Fred Brobbey and Matilda Antwi, all of whom pleaded guilty to charges in the Eastern District of Virginia.

The organisation used couriers aboard commercial airlines to smuggle heroin from Ghana to the United States, frequently from the Kotoka International Airport in Accra, Ghana, to Dulles International Airport in the Eastern District of Virginia as well as other airports in the United States.

Zico shared leadership of the conspiracy with Edward Macauley who was also convicted in the Eastern District of Virginia and sentenced to 14 years' imprisonment.

Five defendants were arrested and extradited from Ghana to stand trial in the Eastern District of Virginia after coordinated arrests by the Ghana Narcotics Control Board (NACOB), while other co-conspirators were arrested in New York, Maryland, and Virginia on July 14, 2011.

Still more defendants were charged, arrested and extradited from Ghana in 2012.  In all, eleven co-conspirators were convicted.

Investigations which uncovered the activities of the group were conducted by several US organisations in collaboration with Ghana's Narcotics Control Board and the Ghana Police Service.

The ring recruited couriers who were paid $15,000 to smuggle as much as $250,000 worth of heroin a trip, according to Neil MacBride, US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.

They allegedly used carry-on bags that concealed the heroin in the lining or in a special compartment.

Edward Macauley, 61, a resident of Ghana, is the alleged leader of the group.

Theophilus Akwei, 35, of Germantown, Md., and Joseph Duodo, 54, of Greenbelt, Md., are accused of receiving smuggled heroin from couriers in February 2011.

By Mary Mensah