Heroin trafficker jailed eight years after pleading guilty to avoid jury trial

Man charged with drug trafficking 10 years ago is jailed after pleading guilty to the charges

The court has condemned a man involved in a drug trafficking operation 10 years ago to jail
The court has condemned a man involved in a drug trafficking operation 10 years ago to jail

Theophilus Nwadike, 39, has been sentenced to eight years in prison after pleading guilty to heroin trafficking charges to avoid a trial by jury and possible life sentence.

Before Mr Justice Giovanni Grixti, Nwadike, a Nigerian national, admitted to having conspired with another person to import and traffic over a kilogram of heroin, some 10 years ago.

Nwadike’s co-conspirator was also apprehended by police, following an investigation into the operation.

The accused had been on the run from the Maltese authorities for a year, before being arrested in Italy.

The court heard how Nwadike and a fellow Nigerian national had met in Valletta in 2010 and became friends.

Among the numerous conversations between them, the idea of making some ‘easy money’ cropped up, and the accused Nwadike convinced the other man that he had two overseas contacts through whom they could start importing to subsequently sell or deal in heroin in Malta.

They therefore devised a plan and conspired with people overseas, including a certain ‘Daniel’, to this effect. The plan, in a nutshell, was that just over a kilo of heroin be concealed in a pair of shoes, which pair of shoes a courier would wear and come to Malta.

The courier – a Spanish national by the name of Justo Ernesto Bellver Bayo – had to pick up the shoes containing the drugs from a place in Amsterdam, put them on, go to the airport, and catch flight number KM397 to Malta. Once safely in Malta and past Customs, Justo Ernesto Bellver Bayo had to destroy the sim card of his mobile phone, buy a new sim card, and call ‘Daniel’ so that the latter would give him detailed instructions as to when and where to meet Nwadike and another man to consign the drugs to them.

For his job to courier the drugs to Malta, the accused would pay Bayo the sum of €2,000. The accused would then sell those drugs.

On 17 June 2010, the police drug squad were informed by customs officials at the Malta International Airport that a Spanish national had been stopped at the airport at approximately 3:30pm after his arrival on flight KM397 from Amsterdam, the Netherlands on suspicion that he might be carrying drugs.

Bayo had been arrested and was found to be carrying 1,127.9g of heroin, hidden in his shoes. The drugs at just under 27% purity, had a street value of €51,583.

Bayo had agreed to participate in a ‘controlled delivery’ operation in terms of law and as authorised by the inquiring magistrate, so as to enable the police to apprehend the individuals to whom the drug he was carrying was destined.

The controlled delivery consisted of a police officer impersonating Bayo. Bayo was receiving instructions on his phone from the overseas supplier, which information he was relaying to the police. These instructions were then carried out by the officer impersonating Bayo.

According to the instructions, Bayo had to walk to the playing field in Birżebbuga, where a dark-skinned man wearing a baseball cap would approach him and make a signal. The police officer followed these instructions, and was indeed approached by a dark-skinned man wearing a baseball cap who made a sign to him.

Nwadike and his accomplice were arrested near the scene of the controlled delivery after smelling a rat and jumping onto an oncoming bus. The police found Nwadike to be carrying €2,000 in cash.

Although an indictment for drug trafficking carries with it a possible life sentence, the court took into account the fact that Nwadike had pleaded guilty at an early stage of proceedings, condemning him to imprisonment for eight years together with a fine of €25,000. 

Lawyer Marc Sant was defence counsel to Nwadike.