Along with collecting fares and making stops, an on-duty New York City bus driver directed an international narcotics courier to board his coach at a stop in the Bronx so that he could take possession of nearly eight pounds of heroin that had just been smuggled into the country, according to prosecutors.
The courier, Boubacar Traore, arrived Thursday morning at John F. Kennedy International Airport on a British Airways flight that originated in Tanzania. When a Customs search turned up 3.5 kilos of heroin in his Samsonite roller bag, Traore confessed to his role in a smuggling plot and agreed to cooperate with a federal sting operation.
After a series of phone calls, Traore arranged to meet up with Francis Abankwa, a 50-year-old Metropolitan Transportation Authority bus driver, “at 6:51 PM at the bus stop at Grand Concourse and East Tremont in the Bronx, New York.” Traore boarded Abankwa’s bus with a Samsonite roller bag in tow, according to a court filing.
As Abankwa drove along his route, he discussed “narcotics trafficking activity” with Traore, who was wearing a recording device. At the bus’s final stop, all remaining passengers exited the vehicle--with the exception of Traore, who stayed on as Abankwa returned to an MTA bus depot.
After leaving the bus, the men were walking towards Abankwa’s car when federal investigators swooped in and arrested the bus driver, who “was in possession” of the Samsonite luggage.
Abankwa, who remains locked up in Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center, has been charged with a narcotics conspiracy charge. While Traore has been hit with a similar felony rap, he is free on an unsecured $100,000 bond, according to court records.