Checks at the Aviance Cargo village at the Kotoka International Airport, where drug traffickers have in recent times been using for their booming drug trade, have revealed that the cargo scanner at the facility has been tampered with.
According to reports available to Daily Guide, the scanner broke down suspiciously soon after some containers had gone through it, a reason for which the drug lords were able to beat the security checks.
The latest arrests prompted the National Security Coordinator, Lt. Col. Larry Gbevlo-Lartey (rtd), to make an unannounced visit to the Aviance Cargo village at the airport where the 1.5 tonnes of cannabis and cocaine busted at the Heathrow Airport in the United Kingdom originated last week.
The cannabis, which was concealed in fresh fruits and vegetables, weighing around 1.5 tonnes with a street value of £4.3 million ($8.6million), was busted at the Heathrow Airport. A day after the wee arrest, British officials announced the interception of another drug (cocaine) consignment smuggled from Ghana, weighing 7.5 kg with an approximated street value of £750,000 ($1.5million).
The National Security Coordinator stormed the place in the early hours of Saturday around 9am in a Rambo-style in the company of other security capos, in a bid to uncover the mystery surrounding the circumstances under which the seized cannabis and cocaine departed the airport without being detected with all the security scanners in place.
Gbevlo’s first port of call was the warehouse where goods earmarked for export are usually kept. He, then in the company of one General Mankarta, an official of the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB) in-charge of security at the cargo village, moved straight to the said scanner which could not detect the busted drugs to inspect the facility and afterwards went to the various security check points to assess things.
The two looked quite disturbed about the security breach which led to the bust of the cocaine and cannabis haul and its implications for the country in view of government’s claims to have put adequate measures in place to curtail the drugs trade.
It is unclear what the National Security Coordinator told the security men manning the various checkpoints at the cargo village but sources said the move was to ostensibly put some fear in workers at the place in a bid to tighten security and to avert any future occurrences.
Booming Drug Trade
Ghana, in the past week, has been in the international news for drug trafficking to the United Kingdom and other countries. The immediate past United States Ambassador, Donald G. Teitelbaum, had criticised the growing narcotic drugs trade in Ghana. “Narcotic trafficking, narcotic uses are threats to all of us and Ghana is increasingly becoming a transit point for narcotics. It is also pretty clear that the use of narcotic drugs is on the increase in Ghana,” Ambassador Teitelbaum told a group of Ghanaian journalists at the US Embassy just before he left the country after the end of his duty tour in August.
Though some workers at the Aviance claimed the scanner in question developed a technical fault on the fateful day when the drugs left the country, others also believed it was deliberately rendered useless to enable the narcotics to go through without detection.
The Executive Secretary of the Narcotic Control Board (NACOB), Yaw Akrasi Sarpong, was fuming on radio when he alleged that security officers at the cargo village who were on duty on the day of the drug bust were strangely asked to go home.
The NACOB boss pointed accusing fingers at Airport Profiling and Security Services, the company responsible for assaying goods before loading onto outbound aircraft.
In the case of the busted cannabis at the London Heathrow Airport, it was loaded onto a Virgin Atlantic airline.
Broken Down Scanner
Credible information indicated that on that fateful day, only one cargo went through the scanner at the cargo village and cleared for export.
The rest, including those that contained the cannabis, according to sources, did not go through the scanner because of a supposed technical fault but were cleared for export. It is believed that a drug syndicate, in league with some workers at the cargo village, was behind some of these narcotics trades.
The man behind the busted drugs is believed to have fled the country to an unknown destination. Sources in the UK also hinted that the smugglers usually used one of the weakest security links at the Heathrow Airport, Terminal 3, where most flights from Ghana often offloaded their cargo.
Heathrow has tightened security at certain terminals upon realising that some flights from Ghana preferred to offload their goods through those places.
Border Force officials at the Heathrow afterwards indicated that the busted cannabis in tape-wrapped compressed packages within boxes was the biggest cannabis seizure in three years. Investigations have been launched and five officials of the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB), Kamaldeen Awudu, Worlanyo Fiano, Ibrahim Badoo, Marvin Amon-Kotei and Ben Kusi Asante have been rounded up by the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) in connection with the seizure. They have however been released on bail.
A supervisor at Aviance was also picked up on Friday evening for interrogation.
The embattled Executive Secretary of Narcotics Control Board, Yaw Akrasi Sarpong, has indicated that he might resign over the image-denting narcotic incident.
Daily Guide gathered that preliminary conclusions from police investigations had cited official complicity and negligence of all the other security agencies at post. Mr Sarpong said he was ready to take full responsibility for lapses in his outfit: “I am a strong believer in God, I take full responsibility.”
Source: Charles Takyi-Boadu & Stephen Zoure and Raphael Adeniran
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