Five businessmen jailed 60 years for importation of 2,200 grams of cocaine

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Five businessmen who were arrested at the Kotoka International Airport in 2019 over the importation of 2,200 grams of cocaine have been convicted and sentenced to a combined 60 years imprisonment.

The convicts are – Frank Asante (First Accused), Kweku Antwi, (2nd Accused who has since jumped bail) Alhassan Iddrisu, (3nd Accused), Clifford Boakye (4th Accused), and Isaac Kwakye (5th Accused).

This was after they were found guilty on three counts of Conspiracy to commit a crime namely possession of a Narcotic, importation of Narcotic drugs, and possession of Narcotic drugs by the High Court in Accra presided over by Justice Lydia Osei Marfo after full trial.

Justice Osei Marfo, subsequently, imposed a minimum punishment of 10 years each on all the convicts under the old Narcotics Control Law PNDC law 236 which has since been amended by Act 1019.

“I have listened to Counsel on both sides and I have looked at the old (PNDC Law 236) and the new law Act 1019). And I am satisfied that, (under) the old law the punishment of the offenses for which they have been charged is lesser in severity than the new law in the same offense,” Justice Marfo said.

She explained that “anybody that is convicted for the offenses of possession and importation of Narcotics drug is sentenced to a minimum of 10 years in prison.”

While, “The new law, however, in respect of the same offense comes with same minimum of 10 years (jail term) and some heavy fines and the two go together.”

Justice Marfo also said, the Court is minded about the constitutional provisions under Article 19(6) of the Constitution and “I cannot impose punishment stipulated under the new law.”

The Court prior to sentencing also took into consideration the mitigation factors from defense lawyers and the conduct of the convicts.

“I have considered the conduct of the accused persons except (A2) during their bail and attendance in court during the trial although some were coming from Kumasi, always were present and where they could genuinely not be present in Court, they asked permission from the court,” the Court said.

In view of the above, the Court sentenced all five into 10 years (minimum) each in prison on the charges of Conspiracy to commit a crime namely possession of a narcotic and possession of narcotic.

While – Asante (First Accused) and Kweku Antwi, (2nd Accused who has since jumped bail) were separately jailed 10 years for importation of Narcotic drugs.

However, the Court said, while the four who were present in Court – Frank Asante (First Accused), Alhassan Iddrisu, (3nd Accused), Clifford Boakye (4th Accused), and Isaac Kwakye (5th Accused) are to serve the sentence concurrently, Kweku Antwi, (2nd Accused) who jumped bail is to serve his punishment consecutively upon arrest.

According to EIB Network Legal Affairs Correspondent, Murtala Inusah, while the four will serve only 10 years each, Antwi will serve 20 years for jumping bail.

Brief facts

Information gathered by the Intelligence Unit of the Narcotic Control Board (NACOB) indicated that the 1st Accused person Frank Asante with his accomplices had been importing and dealing in Narcotic substances from Brazil and other countries.

It stated that surveillance was mounted on the travels and other activities of Frank Asante and his accomplices.

According to the facts, sometime in March 2019, the intelligence team monitoring Frank Asante observed him arrive from Brazil to Ghana where he was met and picked up at the Kotoka International Airport by the 3rd accused person Alhassan Iddrisu.

It stated that, in May 2019, the team observed Frank Asante arrive from Brazil to Ghana and he was met at the Airport by Alhassan Iddrisu, Clifford Aboagye, and Isaac Kiakye.

It said, they all drove off to a spot at Achimota Mile 7, where Frank Asante was seen hand over a backpack from his traveling bag to Alhassan Iddrisu.

The Facts stated that, on July 13, 2019, Frank Asante and the accused person Kweku Antwi arrived on an Ethiopian Airline from Brazil to Ghana.

The 2nd accused person had been engaged by the 1st accused to carry narcotic drugs from Brazil to Ghana at a fee and they both carried their respective travelling bags tagged in their respective names.

It added that, in the course of the arrival formalities, two black backpacks suspected to contain narcotic drugs were seen in the traveling bags of the 2nd accused person.

All the travelling bags were loaded into a vehicle driven by the 3rd accused person.

The 4th and 5th accused persons boarded a separate vehicle. All five accused persons were arrested before they could leave the Kotoka International Airport and were taken to NACOB headquarters for further investigations.

“The two black backpacks retrieved from the travelling bags of the 2nd accused were cut open in the presence of all the accused persons.

“Whitish substances wrapped in foil were discovered in a false compartment of each of the backpacks.

“The substances which were field tested proved positive for cocaine. A subsequent search at the residences of the 3rd accused person at Race Course and New Fadama, Accra, disclosed 4 similar backpacks, 2 of which had their bottoms ripped off, weighing scales suspected to be used to weigh the narcotic substances, a test tube, different passports and gallons containing liquid substances.

“A similar gallon also containing liquid substance was retrieved from the vehicle of the 3rd accused person at the time of arrest.

“The whitish substances and the gallons containing the liquid substances were forwarded to the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) for analytical examination.

“The report from the GSA indicated that the substances from the 2 backpacks retrieved from the travelling bags of the 2nd accused tested positive for cocaine with an 82.5 percentage purity and a net weight of 2,200.0 grams.

“Two of the gallons containing the liguid substances were identified as alcohol and a 3rd gallon tested positive for an organophosphorus pesticide,” it stated.

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