A Jamaican and three Dutch nationals have been charged with smuggling cannabis, while allegedly using their investor licences as a cover for their illicit activities in the Horn of Africa country.
The Jamaican and one Dutch citizen are in jail pending trial, while the other two Dutch nationals and their three Ethiopian accomplices are reportedly on the run.
Prosecutors say the Jamaican investor was in 2007 awarded a license to set up a food processing plant in Shashemene town, to the east of Addis Ababa.
However, the Jamaican investor, prosecutors allege, was involved in the illegal production of cannabis.
The Jamaican citizen, who is alleged to be the ring leader, was reportedly sending the illicit drug abroad, mainly to the United Kingdom, via post office concealing it in cultural artefacts and other local foods, such as red pepper and flour.
It is the State’s case that last October, around 200 grammes of cannabis were sized at the Addis Ababa internationalairport after the Jamaican man had tried to bribe an airline’s staff with US$16,000.
The Jamaican evaded arrest but was later apprehended in neighbouring Kenya.
It is believed that by then he had paid US$6,000 as an advance payment to the airline’s staff to smuggle the cannabis.
Also three Dutch investors who took a license from the government in textile industry charged for sending 50 grammes of cannabis to the UK at various times. The charge indicated that one of the Dutch men bribed airline staff so he could smuggle the drug.
The Dutch are also charged for sending an undisclosed amount of cannabis in collaboration with a local man to the UK and other countries.
Prosecutors say the Dutch international was caught red handed at the airport while giving US$ 6,000 to an airline staffer.
The pair had their bail applications rejected, with the case expected to resume on 29 October.