A man who went on the run after he became wanted for his part in a drug smuggling ring has been jailed for 11 years.

Ajay Onuchukwu custody imageThe National Crime Agency began looking into Ajah Onuchukwu, 42, from Enfield, London, and his associates in 2013 when cocaine was found in a parcel that had been sent from St Martens in the Caribbean to a North London address.

NCA investigators were able to link Onuchukwu and his group to at least 77 drug parcels that had been intercepted by Border Force, across 14 different addresses, between June 2008 and August 2014. 

They organised the transport of at least 4.8 kilos of cocaine and 210 kilos of cannabis over the time they were operating – worth an estimated £1.8 million if sold on the streets of the UK. The group utilised messaging services such as Skype, Yahoo Messenger, iMessage and WhatsApp to communicate with drug distributors in Africa, Asia and South America, advising them where to send the parcels.

After his initial arrest Onuchukwu fled the UK in 2015 while on bail and was listed as wanted by the NCA.

He was captured on a European Arrest Warrant in the Netherlands in 2018 and extradited to the UK a year later.

Onuchukwu appeared before Isleworth Crown Court in December [2020] where he was found guilty of three charges relating to attempting to import both Class A and B drugs.

He was sentenced at the same court on Friday, where he received a jail term of 11 years.

Two other men were convicted in 2015 for their part in the conspiracy.

Patrick Udensi, 39, from Enfield in north London, was believed to be the leader of the group and was sentenced to 14 years for conspiracy to import class A and B drugs.

John Arinze Nwosu, 47, from Edgbaston, Birmingham, was found guilty of importing class B drugs but absconded before trial. He was sentenced to five and a half years in prison in his absence and remains wanted by the NCA.

Ian Truby, from the NCA’s Heathrow border investigation team, said: “The seizures we identified probably only cover a fraction of what this group managed to bring into the country. 

“Organised crime groups have been known to exploit infrastructure like the post and fast parcel system to bring illicit commodities into the UK, and cause further exploitation and harm to communities.

“Working with partners, we were able to successfully track Onuchukwu and secure his return to the UK to face justice.

“This has been a long-running investigation, but it is not over yet. One of these men still remains wanted. We would appeal to anyone who thinks they may have information on John Arinze Nwosu to contact the NCA directly on 0370 496 7622 or via Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.”

8 March 2021