A Drug Enforcement Commission assistant security officer stationed at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport has narrated to the Lusaka Magistrates’ Courts how a Bolivian national trafficking 2.1kg of cocaine was intercepted.
When the matter came up before magistrate Mwandu Sakala, Tuesday, Melai Jacqueline Nyambose told the court that they were prompted to search the suspect because it was very unusual for a passenger to travel from Brazil to Lusaka only with bottles of roll on.
Last month on February 18, the Drug Enforcement Commission arrested a 27-year-old Bolivian national identified as Veizaga Arias Steven at KKIA upon arrival from Rio de Janeiro via Angolan Airlines flight for trafficking is 2.1kg of cocaine wrapped in condoms and concealed in fifty five roll on bottles.
When the matter came up for plea on February 27, before Lusaka Magistrate, Mwandu Sakala, the accused pleaded guilty to trafficking 2.1kg of cocaine but denied another charge of importation of Narcotics Drugs contrary to Section 7 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act Chapter 96 of the Laws of Zambia.
In his admission, he told the court that he was told that he was transporting cosmetics to a person he did not know.
He said he did not know the contents until he was arrested at KKIA because he was just instructed to deliver the goods and return to Bolivia.
When Nyambose was called as a witness, she narrated that, “On the 18th February, 2018, I reported for duty at KKIA. At around 12:30 hours I went to Angola Airlines office where I went to ask for the incoming passengers manifest,” she narrated.
Asked why she asked for the passengers’ manifest, Nyambose explained that DEC had arrested a number of drug related cases on the Angolan airline.
“Because on the same flight we have arrested quite a number of suspects on drug related cases. The passengers manifest is a list of passengers that come into the country, specifically I went to check for the incoming passengers. On the list your honour I was interested in one name Steven Veizaga. What caught my attention your honour is the country where the same passenger was coming from which is Brazil. The same passenger was arriving on flight Angola which landed about 13:00 hours. Around 13:00 hours my colleague Mr Alex Ndelenenti and I identified the passenger,” she explained.
Asked how they were able to identify the passenger, Nyambose explained that the suspect kept fidgeting.
“He showed discomfort, he was not at ease. He didn’t really know where he wanted to go. Because once you arrive, the first point where a passenger is supposed to go is to the immigration booth, that’s where they are supposed to be cleared. Now he didn’t really know where to go. He kept going to the toilet back and forth. My colleague and I waited until he was cleared by the immigration. He picked his pink suitcase from the conveyor belt. Before the passenger could exit from the arrivals hall, my colleague and I intercepted him and asked for his passport which contained Steven Veizaga, Bolivian national coming from Brazil via an Angolan airlines,” she said.
Nyambose explained that since Veizaga did not speak or understand English, he had an application on his phone which was using to translate to the Bolivian language for ease communication.
“We introduced ourselves as officers from DEC and our mission there in. We asked to search his suitcase…The suitcase was opened in the presence of Mr Ndelenenti, myself and one officer from Zambia Police. There’s a search bay right there in the arrivals hall,” she said.
Nyambose explained that after the suitcase was opened that’s when they discovered the roll on bottles which contained cocaine.
“When the bag was opened, inside the suitcase your honour, where five boxes of roll on. In each box contained 12 bottles of roll on. We were not satisfied with what we saw so Mr Ndelenenti and myself, together with the suspect now the accused, went to our DEC office situation right at KKIA for a further search. When we went to our office Mr Ndelenenti is the one who did a further search. From one box, one roll bottle was opened [and] it revealed a transparent plastic which looked like a condom placed inside the roll on. The transparent plastic was opened with a knife and it revealed some creamish powder which is suspected to be Narcotic Drugs,” she said.
“When all the roll-ons were opened it revealed that 11 bottles of roll-on contained the same Narcotic of which one [bottle of roll on] had normal ordinary roll on. We further searched the remaining four boxes and it was the same, 11 bottles containing suspected Narcotics and one bottle containing normal roll on. In total, of the 60 bottles of roll on, 55 contained suspected Narcotic drugs and five contained ordinary roll on. From there Mr Ndelenenti took it.”
Nyambose said it she was convinced the accused knew the contents of what he was carrying.
Magistrate Mwandu Sakala adjourned the matter to March 32 for continuation of trial.