Ghana - The head of security at Ghana's main international
airport has been arrested in the US on charges of heroin trafficking, in the
latest sign of a growing narcotics trade in west Africa, statements obtained on
Solomon Adelaquaye, the head of a private firm contracted to
run security at the Accra airport, was charged alongside his Colombian and two
Nigerian co-conspirators, Ghana's Narcotics Control Board and the US Drug
Enforcement Agency (DEA) said.
In February 2012, Adelaquaye used his influence at the
airport to guide a laptop packed with heroin through security in exchange for
$10 000, according to the DEA.
Then, last month, the group made new plans to move 3 000kg
of cocaine through Accra in 25kg instalments.
All of their negotiations, held mainly in Accra, were caught
on tape by uncover DEA agents, statements said.
Adelaquaye, 48, and the two Nigerians - Frank Muodum, and
Celestine Ofor Orjinweke - were arrested in New York on May 9, according to the
It was not clear why they travelled to the US ahead of their
arrest and the US embassy in Accra did not immediately respond to enquiries.
Samuel Antonio Pinedo-Rueda, 72, was arrested in Colombia on
May 16 and is awaiting extradition, the DEA said.
"Drug trafficking in west Africa has become a
plague," Derek Maltz, DEA special agent said in the June 3 statement.
The agency identified Adelaquaye as the individual "who
was responsible for security at the international airport in Ghana".
Ghana's narcotics bureau said Adelaquaye was the managing
director of a private firm called Sohin Security, which has security contracts
at airports across the country.
Those contracts have been "suspended with immediate
effect", the bureau said.
Documents filed to a federal court in New York, where the
group has been charged, said the heroin came from Afghanistan, which had been
brought to Ghana by Pinedo-Rueda.
Analysts say Ghana, a nation of some 25 million people, is
an emerging trafficking hub for South American and Asian narcotics destined for
sale in the US and Europe.
Transportation infrastructure is advanced compared to other
countries in west Africa, but corruption among customs and port officials
remains rampant, according to analysts.