The Narcotics Control Board (NACOB) has made what it says is the biggest narcotics bust in the country’s history with the interception of 5,851 compressed slabs of what is suspected to be cannabis at the Tema Port. The illicit drug, which has an estimated street value of £29.2 million, was concealed in boxes of yams ready to be shipped to the United Kingdom (UK).
Two suspects, Dominic Kojo Amenyo and Osae Akotua, both freight forwarders at the Tema Port, have been arrested in connection with the case.
A third suspect, whose name was given only as Bright, also a freight forwarder, is on the run and an intensive search has been mounted for his arrest.
The names of the companies involved in the abortive export of the yams and the cannabis have, however, been withheld for security reasons.
The Executive Secretary of NACOB, Mr Francis Torkornoo, told the Daily Graphic in Accra yesterday that the interception of the drug was the result of a collaboration between the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and the Port Police at the Tema Harbour.
He said on Thursday, March 7, 2019, Customs officials at the Tema Yam Park where all yams to be exported were kept for Customs checks before export became suspicious when large quantities of boxes containing yams were brought for export to the UK.
Being suspicious that some of the boxes might contain concealed drugs, Mr Torkornoo said, the Customs officials called NACOB officials operating at the Tema Port for assistance to open some of the boxes for checks.
When the first box was opened, it contained yams that had been packed, but when the yams were removed one after another, the officials detected that underneath the box was a compressed substance wrapped in yellow cellophane.
Following the detection of the substance, he said, all the other boxes of yams were opened and searched and, in the process, 5,851 compressed slabs of leaves suspected to be cannabis were found.
The executive secretary said the two freight forwarders who were handling the shipment of the yams were immediately arrested by the NACOB officials, who handed them over to the Tema Port Police for further investigations.
On interrogation, he said, Amenyo claimed that he was doing his usual rounds at the port when Osae, a colleague clearing agent, called him to assist him in the processing of large quantities of yam to be exported to London.
Amenyo explained further that he did not know who the real exporters or owners of the large boxes were because he just went to the Yam Village to assist Osae, who was his friend, and that they had been helping each other whenever the need arose.
For his part, Osae claimed that another freight forwarder by name Bright had called him to come and handle the processing of the documents for him, since he (Bright) had another job to attend to, and that he had no idea that the boxes were filled with a compressed substance.
Mr Torkornoo said one compressed slab of cannabis weighed one kilogramme and its street value in the UK was £5,000, making the value of the 5,851 slabs £29.2 million.
The two freight forwarders are currently assisting NACOB in its investigations, while an intensive search has been mounted to arrest all those behind the shipment, especially the exporters of the yams.