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Thursday 22 March 2018

'Irish' smuggler ate 72 bags of cocaine

Luke Byrne

Luke Byrne

IRISH authorities were last night investigating the possibility that a man arrested for drug trafficking in Brazil used a fraudulently obtained passport to travel.

The 20-year-old man, identified only as PBB, was stopped as he tried to board a flight from Congonhas Airport in Sao Paulo to Lisbon in Portugal. He was due to get a connecting plane to Brussels in Belgium.

He had 72 bags containing almost a kilo of cocaine inside his intestines.

It was not clear last night whether the man was an Irish citizen. It is understood he was not born in the country and is originally from Nigeria.

A Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman said the man's passport had been issued by the Passport Office.

However, he said that an investigation had been launched into whether the passport was obtained fraudulently, by applying for it with a stolen identity.

The possibility that the passport was obtained genuinely but did not belong to the man is also being probed.

The man had a medical examination and was said to be in "good health" last night. Police said it was his nervous behaviour that tipped off authorities in the airport.

Medical-imaging photos show bags of cocaine in a man's gastrointestinal tract. It is not clear if his erratic behaviour was caused by nerves or if the cocaine had begun to leak into his system.

The man was brought to hospital where the drugs were removed from his body. The drugs would be worth around €150,000, police sources said.

He has now been charged with international drug trafficking which carries a sentence of up to 15 years.

Fraudulently obtained Irish passports have been used in a number of high-profile crimes in recent years.

Irish Independent

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