Alleged Nigerian drug mastermind extradited to US
A Nigerian suspected of being the mastermind of an international drug-smuggling operation was extradited to the US on Thursday to face charges of drug-trafficking, the Hawks said on Friday.
Edwin Elochukwu Anyaoku, 54, was arrested in a joint police investigation by the Hawks’ South African Narcotics Enforcement Bureau (Saneb) and the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in Fourways in July last year.
His arrest resulted in the seizure of 29kg of heroin worth more than R6m.
Anyaoku was arrested with Lerato Diannah Mohai, 42, the alleged courier, and Christopher Okonkwo, 53, the suspected scout.
Charges against Okonkwo were withdrawn in the Randburg Regional Court last year.
However the case against Mohai is ongoing at the same court. It is set down for trial on July 16 and 17.
Hawks spokesperson Capt Hangwani Mulaudzi said on Friday that the investigation into the group started in 2017.
“An undercover operation was set where Anyaoku allegedly agreed to supply heroin. Anyaoku brought 29kg of heroin and, after the purchase, he was arrested with Mohai and Okonkwo,” Mulaudzi said.
He said a request was received from the US justice department for the extradition of Anyaoku late last year.
Mulaudzi said the extradition hearing took place in December and Anyaoku decided to waive his right to appeal against it.
“In April this year the extradition was authorised by the minister of justice and constitutional development (Michael Masutha) and Anyaoku was extradited to the US with the assistance of Pretoria Interpol yesterday,” Mulaudzi said.