Nigerian Held For Smuggling Cocaine Through Courier Firms

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The Indian police  have arrested a Nigerian, Ogbonna Philip Nwuchukwu (27) over  allegations of smuggling about  870 gm of cocaine worth $225,000. The drug was  intercepted while being sent to Australia, Canada and Indonesia through courier  services, India’s the Times of India reported today.

According to officials of the customs preventive unit of the Pune customs  commissionerate, Nwuchukwu used Pune as a base to shift cocaine consignments to  other countries. He was alleged to have sent similar parcels to South Africa and  Seychelles through courier agencies in Pune. Each time he sent a consignment, he  used a different courier service.

This time the drug was being sent by Nwuchukwu to Australia, Canada and Indonesia.  According to officials, the value of the drugs would be in the range of Rs 4 to Rs 5  crore on the international market.

R Sekar, commissioner of customs, Pune, said that one courier service had tipped off  officials of the Narcotics cell, who then verified that the substance was cocaine.

According to him, the consignment heading for Canada had cocaine packed in small  pouches kept beneath the plastic casing of measuring tapes. In the Australian  consignment the drug was concealed between two layers of paper lanterns. “We  recovered 375 gm of cocaine from these two consignments,” Sekar said.

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The third consignment, to Indonesia, had 495 gm of cocaine concealed in the statue  of an elephant, he said.

Sekar said that when officials checked the address given by Nwuchukwu to the courier  agency, it was found to be fake. “We laid a trap with the help of the courier agency  people. We phoned up the foreign national and asked him to return to Pune to  complete some formalities. On October 9, when he came to Pune, we laid a trap and  arrested him. We have recovered the receipts of the courier agency from him,” Sekar  said. Nwuchukwu will be in the custody of the customs till October 15.

According to him, Nwuchukwu had been staying in New Delhi since August 2009. “He  would come to Pune by train in the morning and, after booking the consignments,  would leave the city in the evening.” Customs officials suspect that he could be  part of bigger gang operating from New Delhi. “He claims that he got the parcel in  New Delhi and was asked to courier it from the safe place. He must have chosen Pune  as a safe place, because of the large number of foreign students here,” Sekar said.

Customs officials say this is the first time they have seized drugs that have not  been manufactured in India. “We are working with the other agencies in our  investigations,” Sekar said.