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Task force impounds 400 bags of cocoa at Adowso – Suspects attempt to bribe officers

The National Anti-Cocoa Smuggling Task Force has intercepted and impounded two trucks loaded with 400 bags of cocoa being smuggled out of the country in an intelligence-led operation.

The intercepted two trucks, with registration numbers AS 2653-12 and GS 4220-12, loaded with about 400 bags of cocoa, were intercepted at Adowso in the Kwawu South Municipality of the Eastern Region and reportedly had Togo as their destination.

The operation forms part of efforts to clamp down on cocoa smuggling in the country being undertaken by the task force made up of personnel from the Ministry of National Security and Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD).

With the help of the formed Police unit, the task force arrested 12 persons who attempted to bribe it with GH¢80,000. One person, however, escaped and remains at large.
Reports indicate that the consignment, which was being carted from Suhum, was to be smuggled to Togo via the Afram River.

Suspects
The Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) of Kwahu South, Emmanuel Atta Ofori Snr, who confirmed the arrest to the media in the municipality, said the police, who led the operation on the pretext of cooperating with the smugglers, took the money offered after which they arrested the suspects.

Among the smugglers were drivers, mates, boat operators and loading boys from Jemeni in the Volta Region, who had come to Adowso with a large boat to transport the goods. Mr Ofori Atta Snr commended the task force and the police for the effort and encouraged them to remain diligent and patriotic in the fight against cocoa smuggling.

Clamp down
Since the start of this year, the anti-smuggling task force has stepped up its operations to clamp down on the rising incidents of cocoa smuggling, which was also affecting the industry in the country.

Last May, the task force in a similar exercise also arrested two persons for attempting to smuggle 130 bags of cocoa beans concealed under quarry stones from Ghana to neighbouring Togo.

The arrest was made at the River Crossing point near Adowso in the Kwahu South Municipality with the consignments, which were hidden in a fully loaded tipper truck, with registration number GE 6486-23.

The seized goods, which were packed in branded plastic sacks, originated from the Suhum District and were intended to be sent to Togo through the Adowso Afram Plains route, the task force indicated.

Also, a driver and a teacher were last month handed jail term and fine respectively by the Odumase-Krobo Circuit Court in separate incidents involving attempted smuggling of cocoa beans to neighbouring Togo.

The suspects were arrested by the task force during routine operations around ‘Mame Water’ in the Eastern Region while they were attempting to transport cocoa beans to Togo.

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The first accused person, Abraham Benning Donkor, 38, a driver, was handed a five-year jail sentence with hard labour on one count of unauthorised purchasing of cocoa beans contrary to Section 4(1) of the Ghana Cocoa Board Act.

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