Man who solicited undercover gardaí as drug mules has sentencing adjourned – a breakdown of the case

A 36-year-old Nigerian man who was found guilty of soliciting two undercover gardaí to travel to Brazil to swallow cocaine pellets and bring them back to Ireland has had his sentencing adjourned until May 18.

The jury reached their unanimous verdict today against Sunny Idah after a 16-day trial at Dublin’s Circuit Criminal Court.

At the sentencing hearing, the Court heard that in August, 2010 a Swiss undercover operative had assumed the identity of a well known Lithuanian drug trafficker and commenced email contact with an Irish Yahoo address. The person from the Irish address indicated that he was interested in finding some drug mules to import controlled drugs into Ireland.

An undercover operation ensued and on August 14, 2010, two gardaí were detailed as undercover operatives. The gardaí were provided with a name, Teemore, and a Meteor mobile phone number sent from the Yahoo email.

On September 14, the gardaí and the owner of the Meteor phone began communication. The voicemail message on the phone referred to the owner as Sunny.

All meetings and telephone conversations were recorded.

On September 15 face to face meetings took place with the undercover gardaí and Idah. Idah gave the gardaí money to pay for their accommodation and food.

A number of telephone conversations ensued over the coming days and on September 17 the undercover gardaí again met with Idah. At this meeting there were references to “coke” and “pellets” being “tight”. There was also reference to the undercover gardaí being paid €5,000 each.

Between September 17 and 19, more money was exchanged between the gardaí and Idah.

On September 19, Idah collected the gardaí in the Airport Regency Hotel and brought them to a McDonald’s in Coolock. During this meeting they were given airline tickets to fly to Rio De Janeiro via Paris. Idah also gave them US$1,000.They were given specific instructions on what to do once they landed in Brazil.

Idah also told them that even though the tickets he had given them were return tickets, they were not to use them and that new tickets would be procured for them.

In a further conversation, the gardaí asked how much cocaine they were required to ingest, and Idah told them that everyone who had been to Brazil to the past few weeks had taken “one key” which was the equivalent of one kilo. He told them they would take “100 pieces” or 100 10 gram compressed pellets of cocaine each. The estimated street value of one kilo of this cocaine was €70,000.

After this meeting, the gardaí made their way to Dublin Airport and obtained boarding passes from the e-tickets Idah supplied them with.

Idah was arrested on September 20 and was detained and interviewed on seven occasions. He initially denied ever having met the two undercover gardaí. The emails between himself and the Swiss operative were shown to him and he was informed of the undercover operation.

Recordings of phone conversations and meetings were also played to him during the interviews.

Searches at 58 Custom House Harbour and 4 Lipton Court in Dublin city provided valuable evidence. At Lipton Court the package for the Meteor SIM card he had used to contact the gardaí was found. At Custom House Harbour a laptop was found which contained evidence in relation to the Yahoo account.

Idah was also found to be in possession of three mobile phones. One of the mobile phones had over 20 international numbers stored in the directory. There were telephone numbers for people in Greece, Belgium, Spain, Guinea, Argentina, Morocco, Mali, Turkey, South Africa and Portugal, amongst others.

Idah denied any connection or knowledge of the contents of the mobile phones, laptop and SIM card. During his third interview he claimed he had been handed three envelopes by a man known only as Mike. He said he handed these envelopes to the undercover gardaí and that was where his involvement ended.

He also claimed that he was not the sole user of his mobile phone and laptop so information could have been accessed or sent by other people.

He admitted in interviews to having purchased the airline tickets but said someone else had given him the money to do so.

Idah has dual Irish and Nigerian citizenship. He has lived in Ireland for 10 years. He was employed as a bus driver in Galway with CIE from August 2005 to May 2009. At the time of his arrest, he said he was living in England but also provided addresses in Galway and Cork. During the investigation however, gardaí found that he was resident in 58 Custom House Harbour and 4 Lipton Court.

He is separated from his wife, a woman from Cork, and has two sons with her, aged 12 and nine. He also has another 4-year-old son with a Chinese woman. That child was resident was 58 Custom House Harbour at the time of the investigation.

Idah will be sentenced on May 18 by Judge Desmond P. Hogan.

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