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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

'Nigeria priest from Mozambique' excommunicates Rome customs

by Stefania Fumo ROME (Xinhua) -- A Nigerian national masquerading as an American missionary priest was nabbed upon landing at Rome’s international airport with three kilos of pure heroin stitched into his laptop case, Italian police said Saturday.

That amount of heroin has street retail value of over one million euros (about 1.2 million U.S. dollars), according to a police statement.

The fake priest claimed he was returning from missionary work in the African country of Mozambique. When customs agents at Fiumicino Airport began taking his luggage apart, he brandished a cross hanging around his neck and threatened the officers with excommunication, saying they were committing sacrilege.

The incident points to a return to the consumption of heroin, also known as "the poor man’s drug" because it costs just 20 euros a dose.

The fact that the highly addictive opiate is so cheap makes it a favorite among youth, the statement said.

Just over 10 percent of the overall population, or four million people, used at least one illegal substance in 2016, according to a government report on drug use in Italy published last year.

That rate was much higher among students, where it stood at almost 26 percent or 640,000 individuals.

Also in 2016, over 143,000 people were in drug rehab programs, with 68.1 percent being treated for heroin addiction, 17.3 percent fighting a cocaine habit, and just over 11 percent trying to quit cannabis.

In the same year, police carried out 23,734 drug busts and seized almost 72,000 kilos of drugs.

Of these, cannabis made up 58 percent, cocaine made up 6.6 percent, and opiates (including heroin) were 0.7 percent.

As well, drug offenders made up 34.1 percent of the prison population in 2016, the government report said.

 

             

 

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