In a desperate bid to outwit law enforcement agencies, drug traffickers have restored to the use of talismans to confuse security officers at the country's points of entry. However, these tricks have failed as security men continue to track them down sometimes with the help of public-spirited persons.
In one such swift move, two persons who hid cocaine in pounded palm fruit and attempted to smuggle 13.2 kilograms of the drug to Italy, were arrested at the Kotoka International Airport on January 20 while going through departure formalities. Not even the talisman prepared by a Mallam and their alleged incantations could help the two escape the arms of the law.
The two, Charles Kwabena Opoku, 41, and Agartha Nsiah Kwarteng, 42, domiciled in Italy are in custody pending further investigations. A combined team of personnel of the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB) and Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) arrested the suspects on January 20, 2005 while they were going through departure formalities.
Briefing The Mirror, a source at the NACOB said both suspects had concealed the drugs in bags containing vegetables and covered by talismans. Charles Opoku, the source said, had lived in Italy for the past 10 years. According to the source, the suspect claimed after his arrest that one Hajia Mina invited him to come to Ghana to take the drugs to Italy for a fee of 15,000 dollars.
Charles claimed life was becoming unbearable hence his decision to come down for the drugs for the fee, said the source, adding that the suspect, who also had a talisman in his pockets, claimed a Mallam prepared it for him to put into the bag containing the cocaine and recite incantations if he was confronted by security personnel.
The source said when the Mallam, who the suspect claimed was at the airport to assist him spiritually to go smoothly through formalities realized that Charles had been arrested and escaped before he could be apprehended.
With regard to Agartha, the source indicated that she had parceled 7.5 kilogrammes of cocaine in seven parcels and put them in the pounded palm fruit in a bag. Agartha, who claimed she had been a salesgirl in Italy for the past 13 years, said an Alhaji promised to give her 10,000 Euros if she took the drugs to Italy.
The source added that nine talismans including locked padlocks were also found in the bag. She claimed a Mallam prepared the talismans for her and that she had been instructed to smile at any security officer who approached her, claiming that her smiles were to hypnotize the security personnel who would approach her. However, according to the source, the smiles of Agartha later turned to laughter which made the security staff think she was insane.
During interrogation she allegedly confessed to the instructions of the Mallam but failed to save her. Commenting on the talisman, Col. Issac Akuoko, Executive Secretary of NACOB, noted that the use of talismans by couriers was becoming rampant in the drug business.
He explained that the resort to talismans by drug dealers was seen as a way of outwitting the security officers. He said information available to the NACOB also indicated that some went to see certain religious personalities for special prayers to outwit the security officers. Col Akuoku pointed out that that showed the dangers which law enforcement officers face in the discharge of their duties and appealed to all Ghanaians to support their efforts.