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Nigerian man sentenced in Texas to nearly 25 years for running heroin smuggling ring

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HOUSTON — A Nigerian who authorities say ran one of the most expansive heroin smuggling networks ever uncovered involving Houston's main airport has been sentenced to nearly 25 years in prison.

Koyode Lawrence was sentenced Tuesday in a Houston federal courtroom after having earlier pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import a controlled substance.

The case goes back to February 2001 when two men working for Lawrence were arrested at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston. Authorities say the pair had swallowed packets of heroin being smuggled from Nigeria.

Prosecutors say the 45-year-old Lawrence mainly recruited college students with dual U.S. and Nigerian citizenship for his smuggling ring.

Lawrence, from Lagos, Nigeria, fought extradition for nearly 10 years but he was transferred to the U.S. in late 2013.

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