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General News of Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Source: The Enquirer

Amoateng leaves jail today…

From the high security Moshannon Valley Prison facility in Philsburg Pennsylvania, Eric Amoateng, inmate number 63765-053, will take the long walk from jail to freedom for the first time in 10 years, beginning today.

Amoateng, a former New Patriotic Party Member of Parliament, was arrested on December 11, 2005 in the US, for trafficking 136 pounds of heroin with a street value of about $6 million.

He will leave behind about 1,800 inmates housed at the Moshannon facility.

Straight from prison, the United States Bureau of Prisons shall hand over Amoateng, now 63, to law enforcement officers for deportation to Ghana.

He will also be banished from travelling to the United States, land of free people.

Eric Amoateng, at the time of his arrest, was a financier of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the party’s Member of Parliament (MP) for Nkoranza North.

Judge David G. Tragger delivered the judgment on December 12, 2007 and sentenced him to a 10-year jail term.

On the morning of November 12, 2005, the fifty-six-year-old Amoateng was arrested for smuggling $6million worth of heroin into the United States.

Amoateng and his two accomplices were nabbed in a joint operation involving JFK Airport, American Self-Storage, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers.

Amoateng was born in Ghana on February 19, 1953. He attended the Nkoranza Anglican School for his O-levels and the Nkoranza Training College for his A-level education in 1973.

He became a teacher soon afterward. In 1992, he switched from education to religion at the University of Ghana, Legon, and graduated with a diploma that year.

Before entering politics, Amoateng worked as the marketing manager of Koajay, a company that bought and distributed school supplies.

At the same time, he was the chief of Amoma, a suburb of Nkoranza North, under the title of Nana Amoateng Ameyaw II.

As a chief, Amoateng was known to have spent lavishly on his people – he bought tractors to clear people’s farms, funded over 90 students’ education, and lent out his own money to people he knew could never pay him back.

In the minds of the local people, he was a philanthropist and even donated to orphanages. In 2004, Amoateng renounced his chieftaincy title in order to take part in the December parliamentary elections. Many in his party wanted to thwart his efforts at running, as they had successfully done in the 2000 elections when he first tried his hand at politics.

Word on the street was that the party’s leaders were suspicious they overlooked after he started doling out cash in support of the party’s presidential elections.

A delegation of chiefs from Nkoranza North pleaded for him to be given a chance and Amoateng won by a 20 percent margin over his opponent.

Amoateng has six children, the oldest is at a university in the United Kingdom and the youngest was just a year old at the time of his arrest.

He owned several properties in Accra and in Nkoranza. He also had two wives.

The unassuming MP took a three-week leave of absence on November 7, 2005. Some said he was going to the United States to buy watches for one of his wives who owned and ran a boutique to resell at home.

By November 22, it was confirmed that the MP had been arrested.

Amoateng had arrived at JFK Airport in New York on a United Emirates Flight on November 8. He met a friend, Nii Okai Adjei, on the connecting flight from London to New York.

Nii Adjei, a tall lanky man, was a sea-farer travelling on a Canadian passport by virtue of his marriage to a Canadian woman.

A day earlier, seven boxes of pottery had landed at Newark Airport from London, destined for JFK. Airport workers found 136 pounds of heroin packed into the pots. The boxes were sent on the Continental Airlines storage facility at JFK.

Amoateng, Adjei and a third man, Gamelie Kuonoe, went to pick up the boxes at the storage facility on November 11. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers were watching them all the while. The three packed the boxes into a black van, which was then, according to the customs’ report, driven “erratically” by Kuonoe to an American self-storage location on Staten Island.

After the trio left, immigration agents worked with the storage company to plant a surveillance camera in the hallway close to the unit where Amoateng and his crew had stored their boxes.

On November 12, Amoateng and Adjei went back to American Self-Storage. They opened and inspected the boxes, and after five minutes, they locked up. They began to leave, but were busted. Amoateng tried to claim diplomatic immunity, but that didn’t work.

Back in Ghana, parliament was engulfed in a huge debate over what to do with his seat. The Ghanaian Constitution allows MPs to stay away from their seats for up to 15 sittings. Amoateng had been in custody for five months, but his seat was maintained on the argument that he was only a suspect.

In Nkoranza North, the mood was more than somber when Amoateng was arrested. It was as if Father Christmas had been taken away.

In February, his constituency gathered to weed his seven-hundred-acre farm. Even five months after his arrest, at a rally held in his support, one placard read: “Cocaine or No Cocaine Amoateng is Still Our MP.”

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