But for sloppy gate-keeping by the Narcotic Control Board, the female Ghanaian cocaine trafficker who was busted at Heathrow on November 10 with 12.5 kg of cocaine should not have made it to the tarmac of the Kotoka International Airport, Accra.
Ms Nayele Ametefeh, now languishing in British jail, had been on NACOB’s watch list since 2009 as someone who used a number of aliases.
Mr. Anthony Smith, a former NACOB Commander who retired in 2010 at KIA who disclosed this said Nayele had been on NACOB’s cocaine trafficking watch list for the past five years as Ruby Appiah, an alias.
Describing Nayele as “familiar” to NACOB, Smith revealed that Nayele “used unsuspecting people at the airport, such as cleaners, to help her smuggle the drugs onboard the plane” without raising any suspicion from security officials.
This, he said, aided her to slip through the security net all this while until her arrest on November 10 by UK security at Heathrow.
Mr Smith recalled that in August 2009 around 2am, two cleaners who had cleaned the KLM Business Lounge at Kotoka were arrested with 5kg of cocaine which was hidden in their trash can.
“The cleaners were returning to the lounge after emptying the trash can when security operatives spotted the cocaine hidden in it”.
He said one of the arrested persons, Daniel Kabutey who is currently serving his term at the Nsawam Prison mentioned Ruby Appiah as the one who gave him the drugs to go and place it in the KLM Lounge so that she would pick it up later.
According to Mr Smith, this happened after the security check point and that was not the only such incident.
“We went to her house in the Achimota area, searched the house and subsequently arrested a sister of hers. The cleaner was using a BMW at the time which was impounded and at the time I left NACOB in 2010, that car was still at the NACOB headquarters”.
The former NACOB KIA Commander said even though Ruby was on the watch list, he suspected that budgetary constraints over the years made the case to go “cold,” adding that the security agencies were supposed to have generated her various aliases to track her.
A number of aliases such as Ruby Adu Gyamfi, Ruby Appiah have emerged in the media since Nayele Ametefeh was arrested at Heathrow on November 10 for attempting to enter the United Kingdom with 12.5kg of cocaine.
Mr Anthony Smith speaking on Joy FM pointed out that it was an obvious security breach that Nayele was able to go through with the quantity of cocaine she carried.
This, he said, could not have been done other than with the support of someone from within – an insider.
The modus operandi of NACOB, he said, was such that anytime they made an arrest, they alerted all their international collaborators, so it was assumed that Ruby’s name should be on NACOB’s watch list and that of their foreign partners – West Bridge.
“So when the deputy at NACOB, Mr Blankson came out to say that there was collaboration, to some extent, he had a very good point there. But I’m not too sure whether there was a controlled delivery for this particular arrest. I know for sure that Ruby Appiah’s name has been on the wanted list for some time.”
Controlled Delivery is where when NACOB realized that somebody was carrying drugs, they arranged with the destination point to try and put somebody on the flight to deliver that person, give heads up to the arriving country and they monitor and pick up the person there.
He called for the need to take a step back and not “throw the baby away with the bath water,” rather, “take a step back and see how best the problem could be solved.”
Asked if he would have allowed a controlled delivery of 12.5kg of cocaine, Mr Smith said, “the answer would have been an emphatic no, especially when Ruby was on our watch list,” he said.
President John Dramani Mahama dissolved the NACOB Governing Board Saturday morning after the British High Commissioner to Ghana contradicted a claim by NACOB that they had collaborated with the British Police for Nayele’s arrest.
The High Commissioner said her country had not been notified of any drug trafficker’s arrival in the UK on November 10.