North Side man faces life in prison on heroin smuggling charges
A Nigerian man from the North Side who has been in federal custody since his arrest last month on charges of smuggling heroin from India was indicted Tuesday in U.S. District Court and faces a possible life prison term and a $6.2 million fine if convicted.
Olajide Abdul-Ganiu, 46, of Brighton Avenue, is charged with possession of heroin and possession with intent to distribute after agents said he received a package of heroin at his apartment in a delivery monitored by federal agents and city police.
The case began on Dec. 31, when U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents at JFK Airport in New York found 246 grams of heroin in the false bottom of a shirt box.
The package, shipped from India, was to be delivered to "Jones Wilson" at 2655 Brighton Road, apartment No. 3. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Pittsburgh then set up a controlled delivery.
On Jan. 6, according to an affidavit, an undercover postal inspector delivered the package to the address and was met by an African man who accepted it. At about 10 a.m., an electronic beeper that agents had secretly installed inside the package went off, indicating the recipient had opened it.
Two minutes later, a team of eight agents and Pittsburgh police officers raided the apartment and said they found Mr. Abdul-Ganiu in the kitchen with "a plastic bag containing the opened suspect parcel and its contents."
Agents estimated the street value of the heroin at more than $100,000.
They also searched a second house in Manchester, one of three addresses associated with Mr. Abdul-Ganiu, and said they found an electronic scale.
Mr. Abdul-Ganiu told agents that he was in the U.S. on a green card and worked as a driver and a landscaper. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ross Lenhardt, however, said his status as a permanent resident in the U.S. was based on his marriage and that Mr. Abdul-Ganiu could not provide any information about his wife.
Mr. Lenhardt asked that he be detained pending trial.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Amy Reynolds Hay obliged, agreeing with the government that Mr. Abdul-Ganiu had the means to flee the country and a reason to flee since he is facing what she called "a substantial sentence should he be convicted."
Based on the amount of heroin, he faces a potential 140 years in prison.
Wednesday, February 03, 2010
By Torsten Ove, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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