A Manchester man who accepted a parcel delivered to a Wythenshawe address from South American drugs cartel he believed was full of cocaine worth £100,000 has been jailed.
The parcel had been intercepted by Customs and Excise in South America and the drugs replaced with sugar before it was delivered to Promise Ezeh at Warmley Road in Wythenshawe.
Ezeh, 38, of Harley Street, Manchester, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and was jailed for nine years at Minshull Street Crown Court.
On 13 February 2014, a parcel was posted from French Guiana in South America. The intended recipient was a ‘Michael Louise’ who lived on Warmley Road in Wythenshawe.
However, Customs and Excise intercepted the parcel and discovered it was stuffed with dried fish, spices, and two plastic bottles. The bottles had been specially adapted and split into three parts. In the top and bottom parts there was liquid, but in the middle section was cocaine.
This was later forensically tested and revealed to be 645.55grams of cocaine with a street value of more than £100,000.
The parcel was then delivered to ‘Michael Louse’ at the Warmley Road address, where it was signed for by a man purporting to be ‘Michael Louse’. It was, in fact, Promise Ezeh.
However, the cocaine had been substituted with sugar by the South American authorities.
The fake delivery was part of a joint operation with Greater Manchester Police, who then swooped on the address and Ezeh was promptly arrested. Officers also recovered a large quantity of snap bags and documentation showing transactions with World Freight and Western Union.
Detective Constable John Buckley said: “Ezeh was the willing recipient of a package of cocaine shipped from French Guiana to Manchester. He had no idea the package had been intercepted and the drugs replaced by sugar, so it is clear his intention was to take delivery of more than £100,000 worth of cocaine and help distribute these drugs right here in Manchester.
“What this case illustrates is that organised criminal networks and cartels in South America see Manchester as a lucrative destination for supplying their drugs, and that there are willing recipients based over here who have the contacts and knowhow to arrange the shipments of these drugs into our communities.
“However, what it also shows is that Greater Manchester Police works in partnership with enforcement agencies all over the world to stop the shipment of drugs into this country and that we will arrest anyone involved in the drug trafficking trade.
“People like Ezeh may be the fall guys who are used to take delivery of the drugs, but these sorts of foot soldiers play a vital role in the supply and distribution of lethal drugs, so every time someone like Ezeh is taken out of the game it is huge dent in the overall operation.
“We will continue to target anyone, regardless of their status, who is involved in the trafficking of drugs and we will continue to work with other international law enforcement agencies to target those right at the top of the tree.
“That is why it is important we ask for our communities to help us in that fight. If you come forward with information about a dealer in your area, you could be giving us vital clues that will help expose a much larger drug operation and in doing so, save people’s lives.”