Clement Agbapu, 36, of Lagos, Nigeria, was indicted on March 9, 2011, in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania. He pleaded guilty to the charges in July 2011.
In addition to the prison sentence, U.S. District Court Judge Gene E.K. Pratter also ordered Agbapu to serve five years of supervised release following his prison term. Agbapu will face removal proceedings upon the completion of the criminal sentence.
The case stems from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) following Agbapu's arrest by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the Philadelphia International Airport.
"The safety and security of our communities is severely threatened every time a criminal attempts to bring drugs into the country," said John P. Kelleghan, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Philadelphia. "HSI will continue working with all of our law enforcement partners to investigate, arrest and bring these criminals to justice."
"This sentencing should be a message to all would-be smugglers that ingesting narcotics pellets is dangerous and could land you a lengthy prison sentence," said Allan Martocci, CBP port director for the area port of Philadelphia. "CBP officers and HSI agents remain committed to working together and intercepting narcotics smuggling attempts at our nation's borders before the deadly poison can reach our communities' streets."
Agbapu attempted to smuggle approximately 1.2 kilograms of heroin into the United States. On Feb. 19, 2011, CBP officers encountered Agbapu traveling to the United States on a British Airways flight from London. He was taken to a medical facility for x-rays, which revealed he had swallowed an undetermined amount of cylinder-shaped pellets. Agbapu ultimately passed a total of 67 pellets, with a combined approximate weight of 1,225 grams. A field drug test of one of the pellets revealed a positive match for heroin.
For more information on the initial arrest, please click here to view CBP's news release.