“Wagba” emerges from the shadows of the Baltimore- West Africa heroin trade
A man named George Frimpong Ebo-Amissah appeared in Baltimore’s federal court in on Tuesday. His nickname is Wagba, which may be familiar to CP readers who saw the May 2012 cover feature entitled “Straight Outta Accra.” The story opens with a Wagba who is a Ghana-based heroin importer to the Baltimore area who settled a dispute between two Baltimore traffickers over a deal gone sour.
Ebo-Amissah is “the same guy,” Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office spokewoman Marcia Murphy confirmed yesterday. He was indicted under seal in 2012 for importing heroin from Ghana, and now that he’s been extradited, the case is unsealed for the public to follow.
A trial already happened in Wagba’s case, in a sense. He was a ghost presence for the jury to contemplate in the 2012 heroin-trafficking trial of Moses Appram, an educated car and computer dealer who was also convicted in a separate case for a complex scheme to steal computers. One of the Baltimore-area heroin traffickers Wagba had gotten to lay down arms, Krist Koranteng, also a car dealer, testified at Appram’s trial, explaining that the dispute erupted over a botched heroin deal involving Appram. In the blowback, Koranteng had threatened to send a hit squad from Ghana to Baltimore to kill Nana Boateng, his nemesis in the Appram deal, and Boateng one-upped him, saying he’d go to Ghana himself to kill Koranteng. Wagba, according to trial testimony and wiretap transcripts, took charge of the situation as the man who’d coordinated importing heroin from Ghana.
The jury convicted Appram, who got five and a half years in prison. Koranteng earlier this year was sentenced to time served, and Boateng got seven years. Three other defendants pleaded guilty and received years-long prison sentences. All have already felt the sting of federal prosecutors discussing their options short of trial, and made their decisions. Now Wagba has stepped into the bright light of a Baltimore courtroom and been identified as Ebo-Amissah, who’s turn it is to decide whether to cut a deal or roll the dice at trial.
In the meantime, heroin from West Africa continues to crop up in Baltimore cases. Joseph Osiomwan, a Monkton resident who owns Woodland Motors in Baltimore City, took an unusual path: rather than a jury, he rolled his dice with a bench trail before U.S. District judge William Quarles, who found him guilty in June and is due to sentence him in October. Osiomwan’s heroin was brought from West Africa by internal smugglers who swallow drug-filled pellets and board commercial flights. Such pellets (pictured, in an image from U.S. Customs and Border Protection) show up in federally charged Baltimore heroin conspiracies frequently, and sometimes notably, as in Baltimore police officer Daniel Redd’s 2011 heroin case, which ties to Appram’s and another involving car-shipper Suileman Zakaria. Most recently, an indictment came down yesterday charging Suraj Olasunkanmi Tairu, just a year off supervised release after a long federal sentence for a West African heroin-importing conspiracy, with selling pellets of heroin to a Black Guerrilla Family (BGF) supplier in Baltimore.