Extradited Ghanaian Drug Kingpin Sentenced to 262 Months for Smuggling Heroin into the United States
SEP 4 -- MANHATTAN, NY (September 4, 2007) – JOHN P. GILBRIDE, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Office of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) and MICHAEL J. GARCIA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced that ATTAH EVAN KWASI -- a large-scale heroin trafficker extradited from Ghana to the United States -- was sentenced on Friday, August 31, 2007 to 262 months’ imprisonment for his role in a conspiracy to import kilogram quantities of heroin from Ghana to the United States. The sentence was imposed by United States District Judge LAURA TAYLOR SWAIN. KWASI had previously pleaded guilty to the charges on September 13, 2006. According to the Indictment and extradition documents filed in Manhattan federal court, as well as statements made at numerous related court proceedings: KWASI operated an international heroin-trafficking organization based in Accra, Ghana. KWASI recruited couriers who swallowed pellets containing heroin and traveled from Ghana to the United States on commercial airliners. After arriving in the United States, the heroin couriers transported the heroin to the New York City area.
DEA Special Agent in Charge John Gilbride stated, “International law enforcement was successful in identifying, arresting and extraditing this drug kingpin from across the globe. Today’s sentencing is a victory for law enforcement as well as a warning to drug traffickers worldwide that the DEA is looking for you too.”
KWASI’s sentencing marks the culmination of a three year investigation and prosecution of importers, couriers and distributors responsible for trafficking in multiple kilograms of heroin in the New York City area. KWASI, who was indicted in 2004 by a Grand Jury in the Southern District of New York, was charged alongside heroin couriers who worked for the organization, a local heroin distributor, and NANA SARPRONG, another importer from Ghana who directed his own network of couriers and distributors. SARPONG was sentenced earlier this year to 292 months’ imprisonment.
In December 2004, KWASI was arrested in Ghana for extradition purposes, pursuant to a request by the United States to the Government of Ghana. After litigation in the Ghanaian courts, a Ghanaian judge granted the United States’ request that KWASI be extradited to face the charges in the Indictment. The extradition process was completed in August 2005, when KWASI was flown from Ghana to the Southern District of New York. At the time of his extradition, law enforcement authorities in Ghana and the United States seized kilogram quantities of heroin from KWASI and his organization, which derived approximately $10 million from their heroin trafficking crimes. At KWASI’s sentencing, Judge SWAIN ordered KWASI to forfeit $10 million to the United States.
Mr. GARCIA praised the outstanding investigative efforts of the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force, the New York City Police Department, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, the New York State Police, the United States Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the United States Marshal Service. He also thanked Ghanaian law enforcement authorities for their assistance in the case.