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Narcotics
02/27/2014

HSI assists Royal Canadian Mounted Police in conspiracy to import cocaine

MONTRÉAL — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents in Montréal assisted the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)'s Montréal Drug Section in the arrest of a Canadian national on charges of conspiracy to import and importing cocaine.

John Izu Nwoko, 41, from Delson, Canada, was arrested and charged in violation of Canadian law with conspiracy to import, importing and possession of drugs for the purpose of trafficking under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. A warrant was issued on the same charges for the arrest of Charles Ifezue, 35, from Laval, Canada. Ifezue remains a fugitive.

In February 2013, the investigation was initiated after RCMP officers and HSI special agents uncovered a scam used to trick a number of individuals into transporting drugs from South America.

The suspects allegedly used a scheme commonly known as "Black Money Scam." They convinced several individuals to travel to countries such as Ecuador and Bolivia to pick up chemicals to "wash" black money, in exchange for a promise of payment. In fact, the individuals were transporting cocaine instead of chemicals.

Originally, the Black Money Scam consisted of leading victims to believe that bank notes had to be blackened to bypass security in order to take large amounts of money out of a foreign country. The fraudsters would tell the individuals that chemicals were needed to clean the bills. The individuals paid for the chemicals in exchange for the bank notes that were in fact only black paper.

To date, investigators identified 16 individuals, including six who are currently serving prison sentences in Ecuador, Peru and Canada. They were intercepted in possession of shipments of cocaine varying between three and 14 kilos.

HSI's Office of International Affairs (OIA) is responsible for enhancing national security by conducting and coordinating international investigations. With agents in 67 offices in 48 countries around the world, OIA represents ICE's broadest footprint beyond our borders. HSI attaché offices work with foreign counterparts to identify and combat transnational criminal organizations before they threaten the United States.