If you have been following the arrest of Ghanaian traveler, Nayele Ametepe, a.k.a Ruby Adu-Gyamfi for trafficking 12.5kg of cocaine worth $5m from Kotoka Airport in Accra to Heathrow Airport in London, then this story by Airports International, an international magazine about airports will interest you.
The article was published in the November Print / hard copy edition of the magazine.
Read it below:
London’s Heathrow Grabs Africa’s Narcotic Cleopatra
It was a fairytale life for the 32 year old. A high flying life with deep political connections across a sub-region of over 260 million people – frequent flights in not only the first class sections of some of the World’s leading airlines, but Bombadier Private Jets reportedly belonging to one of West Africa’s richest men and the brother of the current Ghanaian President and Chairman of the Regional Political Union. Sleeping in the choicest hotels around the world came only as an aside.
But this life at 15,000ft, for someone born and bred in a country with per capita just over a $1,000, came crushing down on the Morning of November 10 when Border Security at London’s Heathrow crashed the operation of the lady who has been described and nicknamed by some within the Intelligence Community as “Africa’s drug Cleopatra”, having used her extensive political and social networks to courier an estimated $75 million of cocaine directly in just the past three years.
It all ended for the modern “cleopatra”, originally born Ruby Adu-Gyamfi when a trip planned to be like the many she has undertaken to over 28 countries in 5 continents turned out to be the opposite as a result of collaborative work between intelligence agencies in four continents but interestingly without the knowledge of any of her native Ghana or Africa’s security units due to a strong suspicion of complicity at the highest level of Ghana’s political system.
With the world’s best intelligence and security agencies behind her track, it was supposed to only be a matter of small time before this drug baroness was nailed. However, numerous aliases, dozens of passports bearing different names and pictures – including those from Austria, Canada, Brazil and Belarus and several Ghanaian and Nigerian passports – including a Ghanaian diplomatic passport, allowed her rare privileges both within the country and outside. As though this was not enough, cosmetic surgeries, aided by plastic surgeons, and the sheer brazenness of her operations plus the well documented help of officialdom in her native Ghana had succeeded in aiding her to escape arrest for over 24 months.
When security officials finally closed in on her, not even the power of the Ghanaian Presidency or the brandishing of a diplomatic passport could save her. In her possession was as much as 12 kilograms of cocaine valued conservatively at $5 million. So unbothered was her operation that unlike many others who conceal their consignment in several ingenious ways, ‘Cleopatra’ carried her full consignment in her hand luggage, having used the VVIP Presidential lounge at Ghana’s Kotoka International Airport, according to local reports and signals picked from Scotland Yard, one of the agencies that worked on her capture.
Intelligence officers indicate that Ruby managed to get her consignment safely into the first class section of the particular British Airways flight using her connections in the Ghanaian establishment, who managed to even get a security official to safely courier her consignment into the plane. Sources close to the operation that nailed her say that Ruby was spotted by other first class passengers trying to fit 2kg of her consignment into her hand bag. These passengers alerted the British Airways staff while the plane was approaching London with the staff in turn radioing Heathrow to be on alert.
On arrival at Heathrow, border security officials, who had ordered only the first class passengers to disembark, quickly asked her to step aside to be searched. This request is said to have infuriated Ruby, who questioned the security officials, pulling out her Ghanaian diplomatic passport in the process. This diplomatic passport with the name Ruby Mahama did little to convince Border Security who proceeded to carry out the search.
So excited were the global intelligence agency when she was finally captured that three top officials of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) of the United States quickly jetted off to London, within 4 hours of her arrest, to interrogate her on various matters of concern to American officials in their unending war on narcotics.
Norman Shanks, an Aviation Security expert who spoke to Airport International was puzzled that the major achievement chalked by Heathrow in capturing this long sought after Drug Empress did not make it into headlines of the mainstream British and International Press, but was also of the view that it did not make it into the major headlines because the top international agencies that worked on it wanted to keep a lid on her arrest for various reasons.
“This for me seems to be the biggest victory in many months for the global drug war. Arresting this lady was important to stop a large part of the volumes of narcotics we have seen pouring into Europe and North America in the past few years. Again, this was one of the most difficult operations in recent years because with her very close connections and helpers in the Ghana government, it was almost impossible to expect any local help to close in on her. All the work therefore was completely done by agents of foreign agencies and mostly from foreign bases and in such a situation, you can only depend on luck”, Shanks said, from his Coventry base.
Before her arrest, Ruby, who also goes by the name “Angel” had been spotted, according to intelligence sources in Nigeria, during the inauguration of a multimillion dollar Stadium in a country where over 70% of the population still to find, let alone live on a dollar a day. Her mission there, according to the reports, was to help entertain the top political elite across West Africa, including the Presidents of the three big West African Nations – Nigeria, Ghana and Cote d’ivoire, who descended on Akwa Ibom, one of the many states in Nigeria whose Governor put up the Stadium as a legacy project.
For now, Ruby Angel or Cleopatra as she was appropriately christened will no longer be travelling with Presidents or entertaining them. She will not also enjoy the luxury of her villas in Accra’s most expensive suburbs including her main mansion at Trassaco Valley, which is the city’s Beverley Hills with multi-million mansions belonging to Ghana’s political class and business elite as well as some of Nigeria’s richest. Her properties in Cantonments and East Legon, which are also extremely expensive suburbs in Ghana’s capital with land going for as much as a million dollars, will certainly also miss her.
By Tom Allett