Two Ghanaians living in the United Kingdom (UK) have been jailed a total of 26 years for the prominent role they played in cocaine smuggling at the Heathrow Airport.
The two, according to the British newspaper Daily Mail, have been identified as Wilfred Owusu, 30, and Francisca Archer.
They were part of a 13-member drug smuggling syndicate busted in December 2016.
The two, together with others, have been jailed for a total of 139 years on Tuesday, April 17, 2018 by the Southwark Crown Court in London.
However, a third person, a Ghanaian identified as Felicia Kufour, is yet to be sentenced due to ill health.
Her sentencing by the court, according to the newspaper, has been scheduled for June 1.
Their counterparts are said to include Joysen Jhurry (ringleader), Mohammed Ali, 41, Preetam Mungrah, 44, Mark Agoro and Damion Goodhall.
The others are Michael Sutherland, Donavan Bull, Moses Awopetu and Leiona Townshend Bartley.
The gang, the paper said, was dealing in over 100 kilograms of cocaine, which had an average of 78.5% purity.
It was seized during the 15-month scam by Border Force officers at the Heathrow.
The Daily Mail report indicated that the drug smugglers, led by two corrupt BA baggage handlers, imported £32 million of cocaine through Heathrow before being busted by border police.
They were said to have stuffed suitcases with the restricted and prohibited items from Brazil from the international arrivals carousel at Heathrow Airport to the domestic arrivals hall to avoid security checks.
They were aided by baggage handlers to sneak the cases out of the airport.
However, security agents used Closed Circuit Television footages at the airport to arrest them.
Owusu and others were identified as wholesalers with international contacts, who were able to rake cash for the gang.
According to the report, Felicia Kufour, who is not related to former President Kufuor, served as a pick-up agent for gang at the airport.
She was also caught on camera waiting in the arrival to pick the bag and was swamped by Border agents in 2016.
Sentencing 13-strong gang of baggage handlers, mules and dealers, Judge Michael Hopmeier said: “Millions of people use Heathrow each year and depend on the honesty and integrity of baggage handlers to do their job properly, but it’s not simply a question of confidence in flight so far as a passenger getting his bag on arrival, but there is a security concern, also particularly in the times we live in.”
It said “the defendants, Jhurry and Ali were able to take advantage of particular security weaknesses which existed at this time, in so far as they were able to attend air-side on days when they weren’t to be working.
“They were able to get on the electric tugs and move about on days when they were not rostered to be there and go to planes – any plane – without being challenged even if they weren’t due to be working on that plane.
“They took advantage of that weakness and that has implications pertinent to security, as well as to the particular criminality in this case.”
Jhurry was aided by another baggage handler, Mohammad Ali, 41, and his brother-in-law, Preetam Mungrah, 44.
Mark Agoro, 52, Damion Goodhall, 30, Wilfred Owusu, 30, and Michael Sutherland, 48, were the wholesalers with international contacts.
Owusu organised couriers, including Danovan Bull, 45, and Moses Awopetu, 38, to fly in and collect the luggage and walk away without any customs checks, Southwark Crown Court heard.
The paper said, “Leiona Townshend-Bartley, 32, Francisca Archer, 26, and Aziz Abdul, 37, had lesser roles as couriers or helpers.
Judge Michael Hopmeier told the gang: “This court sees regularly the pernicious effects of the class A drugs today, particularly on young people whose lives are often destroyed as a result on their dependency on class A drugs.
“In addition the lives of law-abiding citizens are often affected as a result of crimes committed against them by addicts such as burglary or robbery – offences committed to further their habits so that they can get money to pay the drug dealers.
“They have in turn paid the persons up the chain and the money goes up the chain.
“Each of you in your own ways have contributed to this menace in our society and must appreciate that this court will mark your offences with severe punishment.”