The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency on Wednesday said it launched a string of operations against drug cartels across Nigeria which led to the arrest of a fleeing drug kingpin heading a syndicate operating at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, and six other members of his gang.
The agency noted that a professional methamphetamine (Mkpuru Mmiri) cook and a lawyer were also arrested in Owerri, Imo State, and Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State, respectively.
The drug enforcement agency, in a statement by its Head of Media and Publicity, Femi Babafemi, said the operations led to the seizure of drugs and cash from the culprits.
The statement read in part, “The Lagos airport drug syndicate was behind the smuggling of 1,584,000 tablets of tramadol seized on Tuesday, March 15, by NDLEA operatives in collaboration with aviation security and customs service personnel at the airport. The seizure includes 17 cartons of 250mg tramadol branded as ‘Tamra’ weighing 669.70kg, and five cartons of 225mg tramadol under the brand name, ‘Royal’ with a gross weight of 217.15kg.”
The NDLEA noted that the psychotropic substance, which was imported into the country from Pakistan, was smuggled through the airport tarmac and intercepted at the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria Personnel Yard.
Two suspects: Ofijeh Mowa, a SAHCO driver, and Nyam Gazu Alex, a security guard with the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company, were initially arrested in connection with the seizure.
“Further investigations by NDLEA operatives, however, led to the arrest of five other persons involved in the crime, including the ringleader, Yunana Fidelis, who fled Lagos to Kaduna the moment their lid was blown open. Others include Adesanwo Temitope, Owoseni Temidayo, Fasoranti Shola and Bamigbade Jonathan.
“Fidelis, who is also a worker with NACHO, had escaped and fled to Kaduna after depositing N19.8m cash with a BDC operator to be paid later into his bank account.
“After tracking him for days in Kaduna, on Friday, March 25, Fidelis relocated to Abuja where he was eventually arrested by NDLEA operatives at 7pm on Sunday, March 27, while he was trying to collect N1m cash from an undercover agent who posed as a BDC operator.
“In addition to recovering the cash Fidelis deposited with the BDC operator in Lagos, the agency also placed a post-no-debit order on his identified bank accounts,” the statement added.
The methamphetamine (Mkpuru Mmiri) cook, Reuben Bekweri, 34, was said to have been arrested in Owerri while trying to distribute a kilogramme of the illicit drug he cooked and packaged in seven nylon sachets in the Irete area of Imo State on Saturday, March 26.