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Shadow Towers

Investigative Programs: Organized Crime

Operation Shadow Towers
Operation British Knights
Operation Searock

From 1997 through 2001, FBI Offices in Chicago, Detroit, New York, and Newark along with the Drug Enforcement Administration, United States Customs Service, Immigration and Naturalization Service, United States Secret Service, United States Postal Inspectors, the British Customs Service, as well as state and local authorities combined the resources of three separate investigations to jointly target a major international heroin trafficking organization primarily made up of individuals of Nigerian descent. These investigations identified subjects from West Africa involved in the importation of Southeast Asian heroin from Bangkok, Thailand through West Africa and Europe and then on to the United States. The members of the organization were also involved in money laundering and various financial fraud schemes including bank fraud, credit card fraud, passport fraud, and welfare fraud. Court authorized wiretaps conducted in each of the FBI Offices involved in the case provided a large degree of the evidence needed to charge the members of the organization.

In Detroit, the investigation identified five individuals who were arranging heroin shipments to Detroit addresses by package courier services. These shipments were paid for through Western Union wire transfers to New York and Thailand. These five members of the organization were also dealing with members in New York and Chicago.

In Newark, 11 members of the organization were found to be importing Southeast Asian heroin through express air shipping companies from Africa, Asia, and Europe. In addition, money, fraudulent documents, and other contraband were being shipped to and from Newark by these individuals. These 11 were also closely associated with members in New York and Chicago, and with an organization that manufactured fraudulent documents for Nigerian criminals in the Newark area.

An additional 11 members of the organization were identified in Chicago and discovered to be importing heroin into Chicago from Thailand, also using air courier services. Through the Chicago investigation, additional members of the organization in New York, Detroit, Dallas, and London were identified.

The investigation revealed that the leaders and organizers of this criminal enterprise, were from Mushin, Nigeria. In all, 23 individuals were charged in both federal and state courts, resulting in 19 arrests in Chicago, Newark, New York, Detroit, New Orleans, Dallas, Europe, and Thailand. All 19 of those arrested were convicted, and the remaining four are international fugitives believed to be hiding in West Africa. The investigation also led to the seizure of more than 100 kilograms of heroin.