M8 drug courier stopped with £1/2m worth of cocaine

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A drug courier was caught with a haul of high purity cocaine worth almost £500,000 on the streets as police targeted suspected high ranking members of an organised crime gang.

Cletus Okpala told officers he did not know he had the Class A drug in his possession and even denied knowing what cocaine was.

Okpala was stopped by police on the M8 motorway near the Shotts junction, in Lanarkshire, as he ferried the consignment from Edinburgh to Glasgow.

He was found to have four bags of cocaine pellets, weighing almost 1.5 kilos in total, hidden in his jacket and socks.

But the High Court in Edinburgh heard that some of it was ten times the purity of cocaine sold on the streets and it could have been cut and bulked out to provide 12 kilos of the drug.

Okpala, 26, a Nigerian national who is married to a Latvian woman, admitted being concerned in the of the Class A drug on November 4 last year, when he appeared in court today.

Advocate depute Richard Goddard said that during an investigation by Scottish Crime and Drugs Enforcement Agency officers into the activities of “a number of persons believed to be high level members of an organised crime group involved in the importation and distribution of controlled drugs” information was received that a courier was to transport cocaine between the cities.

Okpala was identified and put under surveillance before police pulled him over in the Nissan Primera car he was driving.

Officers saw there were two “quite bulky” packages in his jacket before finding more in his socks. Okpala said he did not know what they were and that he was “just taking them to a man”. Two £100 notes were discovered in his wallet.

He confirmed that he had been travelling to Glasgow but declined to say any more about his destination. He denied dealing in drugs.

Police searched his home in Wardieburn Place West, in Edinburgh, and seized mobile phones and sets of notations.

Mr Goddard said the cocaine recovered following the motorway stop was between 42 and 53 per cent, which was significantly higher than the average of five per cent found in street level cocaine.

The advocate depute said an immigration legislation order had been served on first offender Okpala which would allow the judge to make a recommendation for deportation in his case.

The Crown also began proceedings to confiscate any crime profits from Okpala.

Lord Bannatyne deferred sentence on him for the preparation of a background report. Okpala was remanded in custody.