by Al Baker, The New York Times
The 12-year-old boy who swallowed 87 packages of heroin and flew from Nigeria
to London and then to the United States has told investigators he did it
because he was homesick and yearned to see his mother, who lives in Georgia.
The boy, Prince Nnaedozie Umegbolu, told investigators it was the first
he had risked his life to smuggle drugs.
"It was in him for 58 hours," said Detective Bruce Viania of the Port
Authority police, who was on duty at La Guardia Airport early Thursday when
the boy showed up sick and bleeding after a cab ride through Brooklyn and
Queens. "He said he ingested it in Nigeria. I asked him, `Is this the first
time you did this?' and he said, `Yes.' "
The boy was born and raised in the United States, but moved to Abujo,
Nigeria, to live with his grandparents three years ago, the authorities
said. "Apparently, he got a little homesick," said one law enforcement
When he first encountered the police on Wednesday night, the boy was
holding a blue sock filled with 44 of the packages, which had passed through
his system, the authorities said. The packages were one-inch, egg-shaped
pellets wrapped in clear plastic and tape, each holding three to five grams
of heroin, the police said. The boy had been promised $19,000 to act as
courier, the police said, and investigators are trying to determine who
offered him the money, where he got the drugs and who was meant to receive
them in the United States.
The drugs were bound for a contact in New York, the police said. But
boy was unable to locate that person after landing at Kennedy Airport and
taking a cab to a nonexistent Brooklyn address. After hours of aimless
driving with the boy, the cabdriver, Ronald Manning, saw that he was in
and took him to the police desk at La Guardia.
The boy told investigators about his father, Chukwunwieke Umegbolu, who
was convicted in federal court in 1995 in a case that prosecutors said shut
down the largest heroin ring in Georgia, one that had imported $33 million
worth of the drug over a decade.
The boy's mother, Alissa Walden, lives in Norcross, Ga., the police
The boy, who has been charged with juvenile delinquency possession of
controlled substance, was in stable condition last night at New York
Hospital Medical Center of Queens. All of the packages had passed through
his system by last night, said a hospital spokesman.
The police said his mother was driving up from Georgia to see him.