A Nigerian national, 34-year-old Jackson Igwebuike was sentenced on 25 October 2017, after being found guilty by a jury of importing 8.5 kilograms of methamphetamine into Australia.
Igwebuike was sentenced in the ACT Supreme Court to 10 and a half years imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of six and a half years—including the two years he had already served since his arrest.
A freight forward business received a notice in early October 2015 of a consignment from China addressed to ‘David Solomon’ with a delivery to a northern Canberra suburb. The consignment was described as ‘statues’. ‘David Solomon’ was a fictitious name created for the purpose of facilitating the importation. Using that name, Igwebuike sent the necessary documents and money required for the consignment to be released from customs and delivered to an address of his choosing.
The consignment had a large blue pallet containing three timber shipping crates. Within each of the shipping crates was a single plastic and plaster ornamental statue weighing approximately 20 kilograms each. One of the statues was a golden-coloured fish. 43 individual packages were secreted within the fish statue.
When the consignment arrived in Australia, the Australian Border Force discovered the presence of the secreted packages and alerted the Australian Federal Police. Subsequent forensic analysis revealed the 43 packages weighed 10.580kg and comprised of 80.1 % pure methamphetamine. The total pure weight of methamphetamine was calculated to be 8.5 kilograms. The street value was estimated at $10 million.
The drugs were seized and ultimately substituted with an inert substance. Delivery proceeded to a vacant residential address in Kaleen as requested by ‘David Solomon’. Police covertly observed Igwebuike take possession of the consignment and intercepted his telephone conversations. Igwebuike broke open the fish statue, retrieved the 43 packages of methamphetamine and made arrangements to deliver it to a contact in Sydney. He was ultimately arrested as he attempted to board a bus from Canberra to Sydney with the drugs in a suitcase. He made no admissions to police.
At trial, Igwebuike claimed he did not consider the possibility that the 43 packages contained a border controlled drug because he grew up in a small Nigerian town and had never been exposed to illicit drugs. He also claimed he and his wife in Nigeria were threatened with death by two unnamed men if he did not deliver the drugs as directed by them.
Inherent in the jury’s verdict of guilty is a rejection of Igwebuike’s claim that he never considered the possibility that the consignment contained a border controlled drug. At sentence, Justice Penfold rejected Igwebuike’s version of the events involving the threat of death by two unnamed men.
Justice Penfold took into account the significant quantity of drugs involved in the matter and the “important and essential role” he played in the importation. Her Honour also considered the fact that Igwebuike arrived in Canberra on a student visa three months before he committed the offence. Her Honour found prison would be more onerous for him given his lack of family and friends in Australia and cultural differences to other prisoners. Her Honour also took into account the fact that he made a number of admissions of fact which shortened the length of the trial.
‘This case highlights the continued commitment and important work by our law enforcement agencies to detect illicit drugs and the CDPPs role in prosecuting offenders’, said Mark de Crespigny CDPP’s Deputy Director.
‘The result shows that significant terms of imprisonment will be imposed on those seeking to profit by importing narcotics’, added de Crespigny.
Igwebuike will be eligible for parole in 2022. He faces deportation upon his release.
CDPP Media contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 02 6206 5708
Jackson Igwebuike was charged with:
- One count of importing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug, namely methamphetamine, contrary to section 307.1 of the Criminal Code (Cth)
with an alternative count of:
- One count of attempting to possess a commercial quantity of an unlawfully imported border controlled drug, namely methamphetamine, contrary to sections 11.1(1) and 307.8 of the Criminal Code (Cth).