herald

Wednesday 16 August 2017

On-the-run drug baron driving a taxi in Dublin

A man who was sentenced to 20 years jail in Italy on drugs trafficking charges has been living in Dublin and working as a taxi driver for almost eight years.

After a major international manhunt, Yemi Moshood Olatunde (47) was picked up by garda officers from the force's extradition unit and he appeared in the High Court yesterday.

He was sentenced for conspiring with other Nigerian nationals in relation to a multi-million euro cocaine trafficking conspiracy in Naples almost 14 years ago.

But while he has been one of Italy's most wanted fugitives, he has been living in Tallaght under a false name and operating a taxi business as well as raising a young family.

Yesterday Yemi Moshood Olatunde maintained he had been arrested in a case of mistaken identity when gardai detained him on Tuesday.

However, the High Court ruled that fingerprint evidence shows he is the man being sought by Italian authorities. Olatunde's lawyers had argued that the evidence sent by Interpol was inadmissible.

However Mr Justice John Edwards remanded him in custody pending full extradition proceedings after gardai gave evidence that his prints were an "exact match" for the man named on the European Extardition Warrant.

Gardai told the court that Olatunde, of Sundale Parade, Tallaght, Dublin had been living under a number of different aliases in Ireland.

Det Sgt Sean Fallon told the interlocutory hearing that when he was arrested at 12.25pm at Tallaght Garda Station, the respondent insisted he was Roy Yemmy Andrew Aro. His prints were taken and they matched those of Olatunde.

The court heard the respondent had been in Ireland for eight years and had "significant interactions" with the gardai. He had been fingerprinted more than once.

The respondent was adamant he was not Olatunde and had a driving licence and PSV licence under the name of Roy Yemmy Andrew Aro.

He also told gardai he no longer lived in Tallaght and that he had an address in the city centre but refused to provide this address. He said Olatunde was a tribal name but not his.

FINGERPRINTS

Kieran Kelly BL, for the respondent, argued that the fingerprint and photographic evidence supporting the European Arrest Warrant had not come through the proper channels.

It came from Interpol in Rome and he argued it should have been submitted by or on behalf of the issuing judicial authority - in this case, the Italian public prosecutor.

Department of Justice extradition officer Barry Crossan said at his request, a lieutenant with Interpol in Rome re-transmitted identification material.

Det Garda Frank Doyle of the fingerprint bureau said he compared the prints furnished by Interpol and they matched those of Roy Yemmy Andrew Aro in the Irish database.

The prints given by the "individual in Tallaght Garda Station" were also an exact match for the Interpol prints. Mr Justice Edwards said he was satisfied that the fingerprint evidence was admissible. The judge remanded him in custody to Cloverhill Prison and adjourned the case to tomorrow.

hnews@herald.ie

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