14th October, 2010
The Indian policeÂ have arrested a Nigerian, Ogbonna Philip Nwuchukwu (27) overÂ allegations of smuggling aboutÂ 870 gm of cocaine worth $225,000. The drug wasÂ intercepted while being sent to Australia, Canada and Indonesia through courierÂ services, India’s the Times of India reported today.
According to officials of the customs preventive unit of the Pune customsÂ commissionerate, Nwuchukwu used Pune as a base to shift cocaine consignments toÂ other countries. He was alleged to have sent similar parcels to South Africa andÂ Seychelles through courier agencies in Pune. Each time he sent a consignment, heÂ used a different courier service.
This time the drug was being sent by Nwuchukwu to Australia, Canada and Indonesia.Â According to officials, the value of the drugs would be in the range of Rs 4 to Rs 5Â crore on the international market.
R Sekar, commissioner of customs, Pune, said that one courier service had tipped offÂ 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 smallÂ pouches kept beneath the plastic casing of measuring tapes. In the AustralianÂ consignment the drug was concealed between two layers of paper lanterns. “WeÂ recovered 375 gm of cocaine from these two consignments,” Sekar said.
The third consignment, to Indonesia, had 495 gm of cocaine concealed in the statueÂ of an elephant, he said.
Sekar said that when officials checked the address given by Nwuchukwu to the courierÂ agency, it was found to be fake. “We laid a trap with the help of the courier agencyÂ people. We phoned up the foreign national and asked him to return to Pune toÂ complete some formalities. On October 9, when he came to Pune, we laid a trap andÂ arrested him. We have recovered the receipts of the courier agency from him,” SekarÂ 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. “HeÂ would come to Pune by train in the morning and, after booking the consignments,Â would leave the city in the evening.” Customs officials suspect that he could beÂ part of bigger gang operating from New Delhi. “He claims that he got the parcel inÂ New Delhi and was asked to courier it from the safe place. He must have chosen PuneÂ 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 notÂ been manufactured in India. “We are working with the other agencies in ourÂ investigations,” Sekar said.