By Ifeanyi Okolie
The battle line has been drawn between operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA,) and drug cartels who have been using Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA), Ikeja, Lagos and the Tin Can Island, Apapa, to massively import their illicit drugs into Nigeria. To this end, NDLEA has vowed to cripple their nefarious activities.
This was sequel to startling recoveries made recently by the operatives at both the MMIA where over 8.400 kilograms of substance that tested positive for heroin were interceded while 277 kilograms of high grade cocaine were impounded from Tin can Ports.
Importations of these illicit drugs, as gathered, is being masterminded by a group of sophisticated drug cartels, operating within and outside the shores of the country. Investigations revealed that they have remained increasingly undeterred, even with the huge amount of funds attracted from the United States Drug Administration (USDEA) and also the United Kingdom Border Agency (Anti-smuggling Division), by the NDLEA in their fight against drug trafficking.
A source at the NDLEA told Crime Alert that the agency has understudied the trend of drug trafficking and their target is to systematically incapacitate operations of drug hauling cartels around the country. He further disclosed that the agency has adopted undercover monitoring of these cartels.
Reliable sources at NDLEA said their collaborations with international donor agencies is paying off handsomely with the operatives intercepting a large consignment of concentrated cocaine, weighing 110 kilogrammes, at the Tin Can Island Port, Lagos. The drugs were concealed in 25 packs of floor tiles containing four parcels each of powdery substance that tested positive to cocaine.
The discovery was made during a physical examination of a 20-feet container of floor tiles and cement originating from Bolivia.
A total of 100 parcels weighing 110kg with an estimated street value of N1.1 billion were recovered few days later from a passenger in an Emirate flight from Bangladesh. Another 32-year-old man was also picked up by the drug agency in connection with unlawful importation of 8.400 kilograms of heroin, which has a street value of over 42 million naira at MMIA, Lagos
The suspect identified as Nwobodo Ikechukwu, met his waterloo when the illicit drugs, which were concealed in a false bottom of his luggage, in a bid to beat security checks, was detected during routine checks of passengers entering into the country.
When Crime Alert interviewed the suspect who hails from Enugu State, he regretted his involvement in the act stating that, “I have disappointed my late father. Before he died, he entrusted me with the responsibility of sustaining the family. I have been a dedicated and hardworking person all my life. My family looks up to me for hope. My dream of becoming a professional footballer is being threatened” he lamented.
Eight days later, the anti-drug Agency (NDLEA) and the Nigeria Custom Service, made a break- through, as they intercepted what seems to be the largest drug seizure for the year. The seizure was a high grade cocaine packed in 150 square parcels inside 38 cartons of floor tiles. The 20- feet container with No MSCU 128723/1 originated from Bolivia like the first one , with the drugs weighing close to 167kg with an estimated street value of 1.6 billion naira.
Crime Alert gathered that the consignment which is believed to have originated from the same drug syndicate that imported the first one, as they came in similar mode of concealment, was shipped into the country on board ‘MV/Jasmine which arrived the port in December 2010.
NDLEA Chairman, Ahmadu Giade said the intelligence that led to the drug burst was supplied by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (USDEA). The anti drug boss stressed that the Agency will remain vigilant and resist the use of the country’s sea ports for drug trafficking. According to Giade, “this is yet another breakthrough resulting from cordial working relationship with the United States government”. He added that investigation is ongoing and that the ports have been placed on the alert.
Giade thanked officers of the customs service for their support during the search operation. He expressed satisfaction with the success recorded so far and vowed to frustrate drug barons. “By these seizures, we have incapacitated the drug cartels because of the huge value of the drugs. This will continue until the drug trade is reduced to the barest minimum” Giade declared.