Wednesday 22 November 2017

Trafficker jailed for 13 year after soliciting garda to act as drug mule

Declan Brennan and Conor Gallagher

A FORMER CIE bus driver, described as an international drugs trafficker, has been jailed for 13 years after he solicited undercover gardai to act as drug mules.

Father of three, Sunny Idah (36), was caught following an international police operation involving Swiss and Irish undercover police.

He was secretly recorded offering the two gardai money to swallow a kilogram each of cocaine pellets and bring them back to Ireland.
Idah, a Nigerian with addresses at Lipton Court, Dublin city centre and Gerard House, Brown Street, London had pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to two charges of soliciting another person to unlawfully import cocaine on dates between September 14 and 19, 2010.

Handing down sentence today Judge Desmond Hogan said Idah was recruiting people to bring drugs to this country and that this he was a far more serious criminal than an “ordinary drug mule”.

Judge Hogan said: “He is higher up the chain of command than a simple courier. He was set up in the business of canvassing drug couriers or mules.”

He said Idah’s crimes were “extremely serious” and that continued the “absolute misery that has been visited upon this city and the country by virtue of drugs.”

The judge said Idah had been “caught red handed by undercover Irish gardai acting initially in conjunction with an undercover Swiss police man”.

The court heard that Idah, who has Irish and Nigerian nationality, has two children with a former Irish partner and that they continue to visit him in prison. He has another child with his current Chinese partner who lives here.

Judge Hogan imposed a sentence of 15 years but suspended the last two years on the condition that he keeps the peace and is of good behaviour for five years post release.

He backdated the sentence to September 20, 2010 when Idah was put in custody after his arrest.

After being told by the prosecution that there was no evidence of assets in this jurisdiction Judge Hogan granted legal aid in the event of an appeal.

Detective Garda Ciaran O'Reilly told prosecuting counsel Colm O'Briain BL, that Idah offered €5,000 each to undercover gardai to travel to Brazil, swallow cocaine and smuggle it back to Ireland.

He said Idah's importation operation was complex and part of an “advanced international operation that would take some time to organise”.

Emails from a Yahoo address showed Idah, using the name Mr T or Teemore, looking to recruit drug mules from a Swiss undercover operative, posing as a known Lithuanian drug dealer.

Gardai used hidden audio devices to record conversations between Idah and undercover gardai during which Idah arranged details of the trip to Brazil.

Det Gda O'Reilly said Idah had asked the would-be drug mules to swallow 1kg of cocaine each in the form of 100 ten grammes pellets of compressed cocaine. The court heard that 1kg of cocaine has an estimated street value of €70,000.

Idah worked as a bus driver for CIE in Galway for four years and has two children with an Irish woman and a third with a Chinese national living here.

He has two previous convictions, one for a public order offense and another for larceny.

During the trial the jury heard that under The Mutual Assistance Act, the prosecution and defence teams went to Geneva last December where an undercover agent for the Swiss Police gave evidence of the operation he had been involved in with An Garda Siochana.

During his testimony the agent was not identified and gave evidence from behind one-way glass. He described email traffic between him and Idah in the weeks leading up to the offence.

The Swiss operative assumed the identity of a known Lithuanian drug dealer and created an email address for that person. He later received an email from an Irish address belonging to Idah. A number of emails passed between the two as Idah attempted to recruit drug mules from the Swiss agent.

The Swiss operative suggested two mules that were flying into Dublin on September 14, 2010. The Swiss police then liaised with gardai and two undercover members were detailed to adopt the identity of these two named men.

The two gardai, known as UC1 and UC2, made contact with Idah who identified himself as Teemore. Several phone calls and meetings took place between them which were recorded using a hidden audio device.

During one meeting, UC1 said he needed to know when they will depart for Brazil because “we need to know that the pellet is tight and that the coke is not going to…”

Idah interrupted saying: “My brother, nobody wants to lose money, nobody wants to lose somebody.”

“Don’t worry, everything is good,” he continued. “I do the jail, my brother do the jail.”

He continued: “We are professionals, we do this before. The important thing is safety first, not money, safety and security.”

Idah agreed to pay the undercover gardai €5,000 each and to give them “something extra” for “Mantas” which was the assumed identity of the Swiss agent.

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