Police apprehended a drug mule who had consumed a kilo of cocaine worth £80,000 after passing by the UEFA Champions League final while posing as a Liverpool supporter and coming home.
In order to fly 5,000 miles to Paris and then back to the UK under the pretence of being a football fan, 43-year-old Benjamin Nwaogwugwu, who was hired by Colombian drug lords, swallowed the massive 79 package haul at a hotel in South America.
However, he was detained when he arrived at Manchester Airport because police noticed him grimacing in discomfort from the drugs’ effects. He was then taken to the hospital, where it took two days for him to pass all the packages from his bowels for testing.
Testing by experts revealed that all 19 of the packages contained cocaine, with a purity of up to 89%, and that the haul was worth up to £80,000.
Nwaogwugwu, of Longsight, Manchester, who lives in the UK with his wife and three sons, ages 18, 15, and 14, later claimed that gangsters had forced him to become a drugs mule under the promise that they would take care of his other family members in his native Nigeria.
He claimed he had been instructed to consume 100 packages of cocaine but was unable to do so due to physical limitations.
The former hotel employee is not believed to have had any serious medical side effects from taking the medications.
It was discovered that the Colombians had utilised French Guiana, which is used by cartel leaders as a gateway to Europe since it is a “overseas department” of France, to sneak the loot into Europe by taking advantage of an EU freedom of movement loophole.
Officers searched Nwaogwugwu’s mobile phone while interrogating him and discovered damning images of a strange palm-tree-lined piece of property and a South American hotel.
Nwaogwugwu was sentenced to four years and two months in prison at Minshull Street Crown Court in Manchester after entering a guilty plea to cocaine importation.
On June 1 2022, Nwaogwugwu was stopped by Border Agency Officers, leading to the arrest.
“He verified he was not in possession of anything he was needed to submit,” the prosecutor, Robert Smith, said. “He stated he had been in Paris since Friday, where he had watched the Champions League final with friends.”
When the defendant was questioned whether he had any photos of his weekend getaway, the judge found a video of a stretch of land with palm palms and an advertisement for a hotel in French Guiana, South America, on his phone.
The accused denied having visited French Guiana and denying having narcotics in his system, but after being apprehended, he was discovered to be in possession of a Spanish passport and a piece of paper with a phone number written on it.
Due to the lax travel restrictions between EU nations for those with an EU passport, French Guiana is used by drug traffickers as a means of easily transporting drugs because it is a department of France and thus an extension of the European Union, as well as because of its proximity to nations like Colombia and Suriname.
“Flight records inquiries showed the defendant had taken a flight on May 28 from Paris to French Guiana, returning two days later to Paris.
There is evidence of a second reservation from Paris to French Guiana from February 2022, but the ticket was later changed for a travel voucher that was used to pay for the trip in May.
The defendant passed 79 packages containing a compressed white powder through his bowels over the course of two days at Wythenshawe Hospital under supervision. Upon examination, it was discovered that 19 of them each contained less than 13 grammes of cocaine.
The consignment would be consistent with a kilogramme of cocaine with an estimated wholesale value of £28,000, and if divided into 1g deals the value would have been £80,000, assuming all the packages were the same. The purity ranged from 72 to 89%.
In the interview, Nwaogwugwu remained silent. The youngest of six brothers, he was born in Nigeria to a destitute family, he said in a comprehensive foundation of argument, and he spent the previous several years wandering throughout Europe in search of employment in hotels and courts to support his family.
He said he felt the “financial burden of providing for his family” since his oldest kid is presently enrolled in college.
The declaration read: “In October 2021, Benjamin was contacted by a group of five persons in Nigeria who said they could provide financial support for his family and that they owed him for helping them allegedly set up his sister’s market stall.
They called him again in 2022, saying they could assist his brother but that they would need to meet up in France to discuss it in person. After arriving in France, he was instructed to fly to Cayenne, the capital of French Guian, where he was then driven to a hotel. He stayed there for three days, only catching up with people on the third day.
Four to five individuals showed up at the hotel the Monday before the defendant was scheduled to board his flight home and instructed him to ingest the parcels carrying the banned medications.
The defendant was intimidated and warned that he and his family would suffer if he did not comply. There were 100 packets altogether, but the defendant could only consume 79 before stopping because she started throwing up blood. He was driven to the airport where he was flown back to France before continuing on to Manchester.
Although the defendant admits that there was tremendous pressure on him to perform the crime, there was no duress involved. The defendant had no financial incentive to engage in this behaviour.
The situation has been challenging for him and his family, according to defence attorney Jack McCabe. It is a challenging story in which the person has forfeited both his liberty and the confidence of his family. He had travelled around Europe, working hard, and had always maintained touch with his family. On the other hand, he has been under a lot of pressure to support his family.
Yes, there are sizable components of naivete. He was contacted and offered a chance. He has sometimes been taken advantage of. He was only stopped at the airport due to the severe physical discomfort he was experiencing as a result of eating the items. The defendant was in danger, as shown by the very deed.
Sentencing Nwaogwugwu was reprimanded by Judge Tina Landale for being engaged in a scheme to smuggle cocaine into Manchester.
You assisted it before attempting to escape it by lying. You were taken advantage of because drug trafficking is an abhorrent business that clearly targets the weak.
“Up to this point, you have been having a great impact on the community, and it is obvious that you are a man of integrity who values his family. However, given how severe of an offence this is, there must be some kind of deterrent to stop offenders from committing crimes of this nature.