ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A Ghana man was sentenced Friday to 18 years in prison, followed by five years of supervised release, for conspiring to import heroin from Ghana into the United States. He was also ordered to forfeit $110,000 following an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Washington, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Washington Division Office; and other federal, foreign and state law enforcement agencies.
Mustapha Issaka Zico, 41, of Nima, Ghana, was found guilty Jan. 25 following a three-day trial. Zico was one of the ringleaders of a multi-kilogram heroin trafficking organization in Ghana. The organization used couriers aboard commercial airlines to smuggle heroin from Ghana to the United States, frequently from the Kotoka International Airport in Accra, Ghana, to Dulles International Airport and other airports around the country.
Evidence revealed that Zico and his co-conspirators paid off airport officials in Ghana to allow safe passage of the heroin out of the country. Zico was directly involved in several heroin shipments and directed the activities of previously convicted co-conspirators Edmund Darkwah, Fred Brobbey and Matilda Antwi, all of whom pled guilty. Zico shared leadership of the conspiracy with Edward Macauley, who was also convicted in the Eastern District of Virginia and sentenced to 168 months’ imprisonment.
Five defendants were extradited from Ghana to stand trial in the Eastern District of Virginia after coordinated arrests by the Ghanaian Narcotics Control Board, while other co-conspirators were arrested in New York, Maryland and Virginia on July 14, 2011. Still more defendants were charged, arrested, and extradited from Ghana in 2012. In all, 11 co-conspirators were convicted.