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Surgeons remove $500K of heroin from suspected smuggler

Posted June 19, 2008
Updated June 21, 2008

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— The case of a suspected Nigerian drug smuggler who swallowed more than a pound of heroin points to a larger problem of drug trafficking through the Triangle, local and federal officials said.

An ambulance transported Ochunkwo Ezikpe Ogbuanu, 43, from a local residence to WakeMed early Tuesday after he complained of an illness. Emergency room workers discovered Ogbuanu had swallowed bags containing heroin, a police spokesman said.

"It was determined after some investigation that this patient had ingested a quantity of heroin," Jim Sughrue, a spokesman for the Raleigh police, said.

Over the two days, doctors were able to remove some drugs by mouth, but had to operate to get out the rest, sources close to the investigation told WRAL News.

Doctors removed several bags containing 1.27 pounds of heroin – with an estimated street value of $500,000 – from Ogbuanu's chest area, according to an arrest warrant. The Associated Press reported that Ogbuanu told emergency workers that he had flown from Nigeria on Saturday with 42 bags of heroin inside his stomach.

Ogbuanu was listed in serious condition Friday morning, but police said doctors expect him to fully recover. Officers were keeping a 24-hour guard on his hospital room, because he was considered an extreme flight risk.

Police charged Ogbuanu with trafficking heroin by possession and trafficking heroin by transportation. Under state law, Ogbuanu could get up to 18 years in prison if convicted.

State and federal authorities said Ogbuanu's case is just one example of a major drug-trafficking problem in the Triangle area.

"It's really insidious," U.S. Attorney George Holding said. "It's tearing our community apart. It's growing exponentially."

A drug task force, created in February, will soon gain a board of directors and more federal funding. The N.C.-Triangle High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force coordinates federal, state and local law enforcement to crack down on drug-trafficking throughout North Carolina.

Government experts explained that the Triangle's geographic position makes it a prime location from which traffickers can distribute drugs throughout the region.

"You have all major thoroughfares, 85, 40, 95, so it's easy," said Donny Hansen, the resident agent-in-charge of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration's Raleigh office.

Federal and state agents have started assisting with the investigation surrounding Ogbuanu.

"If we determine that they are other people who might be involved in some way and we can ID those people and develop probable cause, then we would have charges there, too," Sughrue said.

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  • renesbmw Jun 20, 2008

    and they always say its the mexicans..............well i think this guy beats the guys they say were growing the pot in harnett county by a million miles...............by the way this was all going on while i was at the hospital visiting my mom-that place was crawling with cops and i think this guy is gonna have a nice long stay in the clinker when he gets well-i just hate to think the taxpayers will have to most likely foot the hospital bill for this loser.

  • PCguy Jun 20, 2008

    GCCMP:

    Free will is what makes us free. Whether drugs are legal or not, they're still here. It sounds like you're doing something, but you're spinning your wheels. Do you want to do heroin? Are you going to? I'd suspect no and no. So if they were legal, would you?
    Ever seen a drive by? Gang warfare? How do you think they make a living? Drugs? Take away the money and they'll push the ali3ns out..

  • ljcs357 Jun 20, 2008

    Didn't he watch "Maria Full of Grace"

  • Pharmboy Jun 20, 2008

    "Liberal slime"...wow, you have the answers to all of life's problems, don't you? We live in the greatest country in the world, but that does not mean we can blame everyone else outside the US. If there was no need for drugs in the US, then these people wouldn't be smuggling it in the first place.

    Colledave thinks that only Conservatives have morals? It doesn't matter if you are liberal or conservative, it affects us all. Just look at the Republicans accused for soliciting sex from other men, fraud, bribery and drug use. Look at Rush Limbaugh...a junkie. I'm tired of those saying religion or politics is the answer, because it is dependent on much more. Until we open our minds and give compassion to both sides of the story, we will always be limited.

  • haggis basher Jun 20, 2008

    "what's the point of being civilized with an animal culture? All Afghanistan has to offer the world is heroin, jihad and boy rape."

    And if your post was anything to go by, all America has to offer is bigoted ignorance. Neither is correct, most folks in both countries are good people. Afganistan is still getting over the Russian invasion of the 80's that destroyed their Government and radicalised their culture.

  • gccmp Jun 20, 2008

    Telecaster...you must not have suffered with drug addiction in your family. I have watched first hand from a close relative that lost his battle 6 years ago. His family found him with the needle still in his arm. He tried to fight the addiction but lost 4 weeks after coming out of rehab because the drug dealers hounded him daily once at home. Before the drugs he was successful. 47 yrs old & had 2 hole in ones playing golf. Had his pilot's license and owned a plane. Had nice home, a Harley etc. Lost it all to the drug addiction. While in rehab he wrote letters to my 3 boys warning them of the nightmare of addiction. Warning them to never start on the road he had followed. Told how he started socially smoking pot but that soon was not enough and how they too might have the addiction gene. Not worth the risk finding out. I am grateful for the words he left.Anyone that has lost a loved one to drugs will tell you of the nightmare and that we can't legalize drugs!!We Must Protect our Kids!!

  • foetine Jun 20, 2008

    what's the point of being civilized with an animal culture? All Afghanistan has to offer the world is heroin, jihad and boy rape.

  • haggis basher Jun 20, 2008

    "How come the taliban was able to shut down the trade, but our military is helpless against poppies?"
    because if you didn't do what the Taliban wanted they cut off your head at a public execution......we hopefully are just a tad more civilised.

  • foetine Jun 20, 2008

    Seeing how the Opium action has flourished since our "freeing" of Afghanistan, can we not agree that this is a state sponsored crop? How come the taliban was able to shut down the trade, but our military is helpless against poppies?

  • foetine Jun 20, 2008

    so much for the party favors at today's Bush fundraiser.

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