Customs intercepts 119 bags of Indian hemp, driver arrested

The Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has intercepted 119 bags filled with compressed dried substance suspected to be Indian hemp at Wute, near Akatsi, in the Volta Region.

The contraband item was being transported to an unknown location on a Ford Transit van and a truck that broke down along the way.

The sacks of the suspected narcotic drug were allegedly moved from the broken vehicle to a thatched house to hide it from the security agencies in the area.

The slabs of the suspected narcotic substance had been wrapped with brown cello tape and plastic bags and concealed in 100-kilogramme sacks which had been sewn at the edge.

The exact quantities and weight of each sack or slabs are yet to be established.

The van has since been impounded and its driver arrested.

Briefing journalists ahead of handing over the bags to the Narcotics Control Commission in Accra Thursday, the Acting Commissioner of the Customs Division of the GRA, Iddrisu Iddisah Seidu, said the arrest was made by the Eastern Corridor Monitoring Task Force of the division which responded to issues concerning smuggling and cross-border crimes along Ghana’s borders with Togo.

He said that based on intelligence, the team intercepted the van, carrying 26 sacks of dried leaves suspected to be Indian Hemp at Wute near Akatsi in the Volta Region.

The driver was arrested after he was given a hot chase and his vehicle developed a fault after bumping into a hump on the road.

During interrogations as part of preliminary investigations, it was established that there was a bigger truck also carrying some of the contraband goods which had broken at Avadre, near Ziope.

When the team got to the point where the bigger truck had broken down, the occupants of the van allegedly abandoned the vehicle and fled the scene.

It was discovered that the sacks had been moved to a house close by to conceal them from the security agencies.

The team retrieved the sacks and transferred them to a state warehouse.

Later, a joint team of personnel from Customs, Narcotic Control Commission, National Investigation Bureau, National Security, the Defence Intelligence and the Food and Drugs Authority conducted an examination of the suspected substance.

Mr Seidu said the suspect had been handed over to the police but there were other suspects who were currently on the run and were being pursued by the police.

He said it was believed that the truck drivers engaged in such criminal activity on the blind side of the owners of the truck.

He, therefore, urged vehicle owners to track what their vehicles were used for as in line with the law, vehicles used for such activities were impounded.

Mr Seidu warned drug traffickers and persons involved in other border crimes to desist from their activities as border security officials were alert and would arrest and ensure such criminals were brought to book.

The Head of the Eastern Corridor Monitoring Task Force, Revenue Officer, Abdullah Dari, said the people behind such activities were “criminals and national economic saboteurs”.

He said their activities had national security implications as criminals such as robbers abused the drugs and “go high and end up shooting and abusing their victims.”

It also has health implications as users end up in psychiatric hospitals “and we waste state revenue on their treatment and healthcare cost”.

Mr Dari said those who engaged in drug trafficking “see it as a lucrative business and might not want to stop but all citizens must play their role by exposing them to ensure sanity.”