A former bus driver described as an international drugs trafficker has been jailed for 13 years after he solicited undercover gardaí to act as drug mules.
Sunny Idah, aged 36, was caught following an operation involving Swiss and Irish undercover police.
The father of three was secretly recorded offering the two gardaí money to swallow 1kg each of cocaine pellets and bring them back to Ireland.
Idah, with addresses in London and Lipton Court, Dublin, had pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to two charges of soliciting another person to unlawfully import cocaine on dates between Sept 14 and 19, 2010.
Yesterday, Judge Desmond Hogan said Idah was recruiting people to bring drugs to this country and that this he was a far more serious criminal than an “ordinary drug mule”.
Judge Hogan said: “He is higher up the chain of command than a simple courier. He was set up in the business of canvassing drug couriers or mules.”
The judge said Idah had been “caught red-handed by undercover Irish gardaí acting initially in conjunction with an undercover Swiss policeman”.
The court heard that Idah, who has Irish and Nigerian nationality, has two children with a former Irish partner and that they visit him in prison. He has another child with his Chinese partner, who lives here.
Judge Hogan imposed a sentence of 15 years but suspended the last two on the condition that he keeps the peace and is of good behaviour for five years after release.
He backdated the sentence to Sept 20, 2010, when Idah was put in custody after his arrest.
After being told by the prosecution that there was no evidence of assets in this jurisdiction Judge Hogan granted legal aid in the event of an appeal.
During the trial, Detective Garda Ciaran O’Reilly told prosecuting counsel Colm O’Briain BL, that Idah offered €5,000 each to undercover gardaí to travel to Brazil, swallow cocaine, and smuggle it to Ireland.
He said Idah’s operation was complex and part of an “advanced international operation that would take some time to organise”.
Emails from a Yahoo address showed Idah, using the name Mr T or Teemore, looking to recruit drug mules from a Swiss undercover operative, posing as a Lithuanian drug dealer.
Gardaí used hidden audio devices to record conversations between Idah and undercover gardaí during which Idah arranged details of the trip to Brazil.
Det Garda O’Reilly said Idah had asked the would-be drug mules to swallow 1kg of cocaine each in the form of 100 10g pellets. The court heard 1kg of cocaine has an estimated street value of €70,000.
Idah worked as a bus driver for CIÉ in Galway for four years.
He has two previous convictions, for a public order offence and for larceny.