The Drug Traffickers: How the Whale Swallowed Jonah
How Andrew Jonah was Nabbed Federal drug enforcement agents and immigration and customs enforcement personnel were waiting as KLM's Flight 621, from Amsterdam, descended at the Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, Ga. on March 4, 2005.
Among the passengers law enforcement agents were eager to welcome was Togolese national Andre Kuevidjen - who was, according to the agents - here on a special mission; to meet and deliver 100 grams of heroine to a ring of Ghanaian traffickers, led by Andrew Jonah (the son of Ghana's gold magnate Sam Jonah) and his long-time friend, Nana Amoo-Adare.
For almost a year, agents had been tracking the movements of Jonah, also known as Busy, and Amoo-Adare, affectionately called Mokoko - They intercepted their phone conversations, wire transfers and electronic messages. The drug distribution network extended across state lines to Virginia, where another close friend, Jonathan Laryea, was allegedly operating.
In Atlanta, Andy and Moakes lived and dined like kings. Jonah drove a 2004 Porche, and lived in half million dollar luxury condominium - which contained unsurpassed amenities such as a rooftop swimming pool, squash courts, tea garden, billiards and game rooms.
Indeed, it was easy to understand Andy's taste for fine things. A skinny and almost frail-looking boy, he grew up in a wealth home. His father, the gold magnate, was arguably one of the richest men in Ghana. Andy had never wanted in life. Moakes, a college graduate, too came from an upper middle class family. His mother, a deeply religious and respected woman, was head of a Catholic Women's rights organization.
In the investigation, federal marshals had even traveled to Ghana, following the party trail of as the big spenders flossed their way through the nightlife of Accra.
But how investigators first learned about this alleged Ghanaian drug ring is only speculative. However, if their lavish lifestyle in Atlanta didn't incriminate them, a bank account at 'Riggs Bank' held by Laryea probably did. For over two years, Riggs Bank had been the focus of intense FBI investigations over allegations that drug cartels and criminal agencies were using accounts there to wire large sums of money as part of their drug peddling business. In fact, federal bank regulators last year, imposed fines on Riggs Bank for not reporting millions of dollars in suspicious transactions. The government had agents souring thousands of bank accounts, where huge sums of money had been noted to be moving around frequently.
Indeed, according to agents, in the recent indictment, Laryea had undertaken similar large money transfers to London to facilitate the purchase of cocaine and other drugs.
Clearly, there were plenty of red flags - and law enforcement agents were collecting all of the evidence they could gather against Jonah and Moakes. They were also waiting for a big catch.
Kuevidjen was the nail authorities were waiting for to seal the coffin on the drug traffickers. When he arrived at Jackson Internat onal Airport on that fateful day on March 4, he was approached by a border patrol officer. The officer said Kuevidjen immediately began stuttering and sweating profusely.
His stomach was grossly bloated and his breath was producing a offensively foul smell, the officer said. Unable to control himself, Kuevidjen may have passed a few of the 63 pellets of heroine that he had swallowed, and was forced to reswallow them along with the feces that came with it.
A search of his luggage revealed an anti-vomiting Medicine - common for internal smugglers to have such medicine to prevent them from vomiting the drugs they have ingested . That search also revealed three cellular phonesc- another common tool for drug couriers used to communicate with different levels of the drug organization.
Since he couldn't speak English well, a French speaking interpreter was brought in and Kuevidjen began to sing like a bird. At a nearby hospital, agents waited as the man passed drop by drop 60 pellets of heroin.
Mr. Kuevidjen was charged, and within a month he entered a negotiated plea of guilty to help authorities nail the rest of the alleged drug distribution ring. This was the powerful evidence investigators were waiting for - and they had it.
Arrest warrants for Moakes, Andy, Laryea, and thirteen other Ghanaians involved in the drug peddling operations were signed in mid-August - but since agents wanted to orchestrate the arrest simulataneously, in Virginia and around Georgia, they waited two weeks to coordinate with other law enforcement authorities. On Aug. 30, a day before Andy Jonah's birthday, federal agents descended on him.
Moakes too was arrested. And Virginia authorities picked up Laryea, and another Ghanaian, Prosper Senyo Kudzo Coker-Ofori. Among those arrested in Georgia, were Fred Richardson and Rico Wilson.