Nigeria Drugs Syndicate, busted!

Nigeria Drugs Syndicate, smashed!

Nigeria: Prices of hard drugs have jumped following the smashing of a cartel led by a Nigerian. It was one of the best organised cartels of international cocaine traffickers across two continents. The countries within their reach include Belgium, United Kingdom, Sweden, Spain, Germany,

France, Switzerland, Austria, Holland and Turkey on one hand, Nigeria, Benin Republic, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Cameroon, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, and Mozambique on the other.


From his residence at 181, Cavera Road, Plot 1163, Sixth Avenue, Festac Town, Lagos, Goodluck Omah, the cartel’s kingpin, known variously as Ugo Chima, James Nnamdi, Africaman, Chairman, Johnson Igwenna, co-ordinated narcotic drug shipments in many kilogrammes from these African countries to Europe.


For easy passage at borders and airports, the cartel cleverly imported empty food cans made in these European countries to Africa. At the various cells, the drugs are then packed into the cans and sealed industrially, ready for export usually to countries other than the origin of the various cans. At the end of every successful trip, the cartel’s members smiled to the banks as huge sums in Euros, dollars and other foreign currencies are sent to them through Western Union. They thereafter recoil into their cells, planning for the next haul even as the International Criminal Police Organisation, ICPO-INTERPOL, and other drug enforcement agencies are left wondering at the sophistication of the traffickers.


But following a painstaking international surveillance code-named “Operation Cans” spearheaded by the Belgian Police, Nigeria’s National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, has apprehended the suspected drug kingpin.  Omah, 43, from Rivers State, was nabbed in company with Patrick Nwaobi Anyadike, one of his men who had just brought his boss 5.5kg of cocaine. This consignment and $74,800 cash were found in Omah’s wardrobe.     


Ahmadu Giade, chief executive of NDLEA, described Omah’s arrest as a watershed in Nigeria’s narcotic control. The operation clearly showed the agency’s commitment to the drug war. The commendations from the international security community have also become the nation’s pride and joy. “It was a unique and outstanding assignment. Despite the hazy nature of the intelligence passed unto us by our international collaborators, we persevered day and night for months until there was a breakthrough,” the NDLEA boss stated.


Omah, Newswatch learnt, is married to Bebe Ngoyi Sudrine Kappoy, an indigene of the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC. Like a shrewd businessman, the Nigerian realised the potentials of his wife. And he utilised her to the fullest. The woman is alleged to have recruited many of the couriers in Congo for her man who headed the cartel. Two of these were the Tshimanga sisters, Ndaya and Bishluala. The duo ferried cocaine to Istanbul, Turkey, from the Central African country several times until they were arrested in December 2007 in the Eastern European nation with 15kg of cocaine in neatly sealed cans.


He admitted knowing the two Congolese sisters but denied using them as couriers. “They are friends of my wife,” he told investigators, adding: “These girls have a Nigerian boyfriend who is a striker like me. I didn’t do any business with them that time.” But the two women claimed they got the canned drugs from the Nigerian and his wife.


Aime Kappoy, Bebe’s brother and Omah’s brother-in-law, is another strong member of the cartel. Born in Lubumbashi, Congo on May 4, 1968, Aime resides in Belgium from where he co-ordinated shipments from her sister in DRC. He also manned exports from Ghana and Cameroon through cell leaders in The Netherlands. The most prominent trafficker from Cameroon, according to Newswatch investigation, is Okalla Atangana Daurentina Patience, born in Cameroon on August 18, 1968. Her contacts in The Netherlands are Emmanuel Assenso-Kusi, a 51-year old Ghanaian and Obi Jude, a Nigerian, in Amsterdam.


Ngambu Gaston, a Cameroonian and John Paul hold sway in Spain. The former is reputed to have made several trips between the former German colony and Belgium. He is on the wanted list of Interpol.   

 In Rwanda, Dusabeyezu Alphonsine alias Alpha, was the main recipient of drug consignments from Omah. Her link to The Netherlands is a Nigerian described as a “tough guy alias Contalfo.” He also reports to Aime.

The cells are limitless. However, Newswatch learnt that so far, Interpol uncovers more leaders daily. Among those whose covers have been blown off are Kalu Otisi and Osarin Linola in Vienna, Austria, Kwabena Adjes Achampong, Liman Ahmed and Ugochukwu Emekoba in Gran Canaria, Spain.


The tortuous journey towards dismantling of the drug cartel began on May 19, 2008, when Dusabeyezu, who took off from Cotonou, in Benin Republic through Tripoli was arrested at the Zaventem-Brussels airport, Belgium, with 13kg of cocaine hidden in neatly sealed cans. She confessed that Aime asked her to bring the “so-called gold from Africa.”  The police ran through her phone. This threw up two names – Aime Kappoy and Okkala. They were promptly arrested. Interpol said Aime admitted to have recruited two couriers for one Ugo Chima alias Goodluck Omah to carry the gold in food cans. For his efforts, Aime said he would get 5,000 Euro for each import into Belgium. The courier also gets 5,000 Euro.


Aime claimed ownership of the 13kg of cocaine and that he received two consignments from Okkala between April 26 and May 2, 2008. He accepted participating in the illegal trade for a Nigerian organisation headed by Omah. The trio recognised Omah when Interpol showed them his picture.  Further search of Aime’s residence yielded a video recording which showed that Omah lives “in a luxurious and protected villa at a place 25 minutes driving from the Lagos airport.” Being an indigene of Rivers State, his address was found to be on Umuoi Street, Mile 1, Diobu, Port Harcourt.


The footage also showed that Omah had a Jaguar with registration number DY 843 LND and a Mercedes ML marked LF 145 KJA. He does not drive but has a driver named “The Christian Brother.” His telephone numbers were found to be 23478083254634 in Nigeria, 22995973978 and 22993972831, Benin Republic, 23794289067 and 23777425242, Cameroon.

Following the weighty evidence unearthed by INTERPOL, it wrote the NDLEA for discreet investigation of the suspected drug kingpin. After several months of painstaking surveillance, Omah was apprehended by NDLEA operatives on January 23, 2009, at about 1425 hours. While conducting a search of his house and premises, 5.5kg of substance that tested positive for cocaine concealed in black polythene bag was found in his wardrobe.


Also recovered from his house is 74,800 dollars cash. Three posh cars were impounded. They included the Jaguar and Mercedes Benz the INTERPOL saw in the video recording. The third was a Porch Cayenne Jeep with registration number MG979LND. In addition, a Nigerian international passport number A2835441 with his passport photograph but with a different name, James Nnamdi, was recovered in his house. A photocopy of another international passport number A3351182A with his photograph bearing Ugo Chima was found with him.


In his confessional statement to a combined team of NDLEA officers and two Belgian policemen, Omah gave his real name as James Nnamdi from Omerelu in Ikwerre Local Government area of Rivers State. He said he travelled to India in 1986 and studied at Punjab University. There, he began heroine smoking and trafficking and was arrested once. He claimed to have owned many passports then with which he opened accounts and thereafter ripped the banks off by “taking the most money possible.”


On the day of his arrest, Omah said he was prospecting for a big deal. “For the record, I had a drug runner waiting for me in an hotel nearby. He ordered 16kg of cocaine. The guy, who was arrested with me, brought me an hour before I got arrested, 5.5kg. The money is from the drug runner and was a payment in advance for the cocaine. I don’t know the guy but he’s a Nigerian living in Spain. I know him by the name Sonny.”


The kingpin admitted that he introduced his Congolese brother-in-law to drug trafficking. “He was here in Nigeria after my wife gave birth to our second child. During that stay, he told me about his problem of getting his life around since he was going to lose his job in Holland. He asked me to introduce him to the business because he knew that I have contacts in that kind of business. We are clearly talking about cocaine business. We came to the agreement that I would contact some people I know in Holland and he could talk to them. I, therefore, took contact with Bonnie K in Amsterdam. Aime went to see Bonnie and they made an agreement. A few weeks later, Aime sent me the first girl. I met her in Cotonou.”


He revealed that Bonnie K was the same as Obi Jude, an indigene of Abia State and that he received the cocaine that passed through Belgium, Germany and France. Interpol source said this major accomplice fled his Netherlands’ base following the arrest of the Nigerian co-ordinator. He was, however, arrested on February 2, at the Frankfurt airport by the German border police. He too confessed to working for Omah.


Omah also explained the cartel’s mode of operation. “We are all over West Africa in the cocaine business. Bonnie K contacts me to ask for cocaine. I look around left and right and let them know if I can provide on his demand. If I can, he sends his brother, Obi Nnamdi, with the money. I collect the money from him and hand him over the drugs.

 Then Nnamdi goes to a man called Coffee. That man can conceal the cocaine in the cans. They pay him $300 per kilo. Then when the cocaine is in the cans, Nnamdi hands the cans to the person who hands it over to the girls (couriers). That person who makes contact with the couriers is paid N150,000 for doing this. For each girl that comes, I receive $2,000.”

He said that he met Ngambu Gaston in Conakry, Guinea, and had delivered drugs to him in capsules. He said he now resides in Spain.


The suspect, who was battling for bail last week, admitted that he knew Dusabeyezu, Okkala, the Thsimanga sisters and Fohtung Emilia, the Ghana–Germany courier. Others he dealt with and whose names were coded were Agnes and Agnes 2, who ferry drugs from The Netherlands to London and Robie, Roby and Robie 2, who are intermediaries in the shipments from Ghana to Germany.


He also knew Xavier Tatiana, a Mozambican from whom the French seized 13.79kg of cocaine at Charles de Gaule airport on August 11, 2008 as well as Kamara Mathilda, the Sierra Leonean courier. The drug intercepted in France had the same Omah trade mark: they were neatly packed in sealed cans.

 The kingpin confessed his dealings with the traffickers arrested so far across Europe. “I can honestly tell you that I am indeed linked to every one of these cases but I am not the head of this organisation,” he claimed, adding “I am only an intermediary; I don’t have the money to send cocaine to other countries. I just talk to people who can provide me the cocaine. I don’t hand over the drugs to the couriers nor do I have anything to do with the filling of the cans.”

Even so, he said he took his share of the selling price of the drugs. “Sometimes, I was paid by Western Union. I received the money in my known names,” he said.


Like others arrested before him, Omah has refused to disclose his assets but eagle-eyed narcotic agents have traced, aside the three state-of-the-art cars, two plots of land, Block 84 Plot 3632 and Block 18A, Plot 2024, Amuwo Odofin, to him. His assets valued at more than N59.9 million and others have been placed under investigation. Bebe, his wife returned to the DRC immediately her brother’s cover was blown off. 


The arrest of Omah is the second major arrest in three years for the NDLEA. The first was Toyin Akindele a.k.a. Ile Eru, who was convicted recently for five years each on a four count charge. However, this would run concurrently. The current case is one of possession of hard drug which carries minimum and maximum jail term of 15 and 25 years respectively. Giade, who told Newswatch that he was worried by the light sentences or fines judges give drug pushers, said that the NDLEA would press for maximum penalty in this case because other countries are imposing life or death sentences.


The suspect has filed his bail application but Femi Oloruntoba, NDLEA’s director of prosecution and legal services and the lead prosecutor, said he was optimistic of victory, given the overwhelming evidence the agency has in support of its case.


Newswatch learnt that cocaine now costs eight million Naira per kilo following Goodluck’s arrest. It sold for three million Naira per kilo before the suspect was nabbed on January 23.


Written by Demola Abimboye  – newswatch