NDLEA detains two wanted drug barons, arrests others for ingesting 175 wraps of heroin

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, says its operatives have arrested two wanted heads of transnational criminal organisations with multi-billion-naira worth of illicit drugs and assets seized from them after weeks of intelligence-led operations across the country and outside Nigeria.

NDLEA said the arrest of the wanted drug lords came on the heels of the interception of consignments of cocaine and heroin buried in the bellies of two traffickers heading to Paris, France, and Doha, Qatar, by NDLEA officers at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, NAIA, Abuja.

This was contained in a statement issued on Sunday by Femi Babafemi, the NDLEA’s Director of Media and Advocacy.

Babafemi also stated that the agency’s operatives at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, MMIA, Ikeja, Lagos, on Tuesday took into custody, Hakeem Babatunde Salami, the arrowhead of “Tajudeen Babatunde Abioye Transnational Criminal Organization” involved in the illicit trade of several narcotics including cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and ephedrine between Nigeria, Brazil, Ghana, South Africa, Mozambique, and Europe.

According to the NDLEA, Salami fled Nigeria to South Africa upon the arrest of a member of his syndicate, Suleiman Babatunde Oba, at the Lagos airport on August 25 over attempt to export 25.10kgs of ephedrine to South Africa.

However, Salami was smoked out of hiding through partnership with South African authorities and other intelligence and investigative mechanisms, with some of his luxury vehicles seized, including his home in Surulere, Lagos.

Salami joined other members of his cartel, Suleiman and Godwin Edet Mathew, who were already in the custody of the NDLEA .

In a related operation, the anti-narcotic agency claimed that the head of another cartel, Okafor Ikechukwu Williams (aka Jantu), and his wife, Okafor Ifeyinwa Grace, were also taken into custody on Thursday 5th October when operatives raided their hideout at 9 Awa Street, Ago Palace, Okota area of Lagos, where they recovered 27.566 kilograms of methamphetamine concealed in a blue box and two sacks, ready for export to Europe and Asia, with their Lexus RX350 marked ABJ 512 AY also seized during the operation.

At the Abuja airport, operatives on Friday 6th October, arrested a drug trafficker, Nwofor Ejiogu Charles, 45, during the outward clearance of Qatar Airways flight QR 1432 to Doha. After body scan revealed he ingested cocaine, he was placed under observation during which he excreted 75 pellets of cocaine weighing 1.653kgs. At the point of his arrest, Nwofor, who was the last passenger to board his flight, offered to compromise an NDLEA officer with $3,000 to free him.

The following day, Saturday 7th October, another trafficker, Nwufo Charles Okwudili, 45, was also arrested while attempting to board Lufthansa Airlines flight LH 0595 to Paris, France, via Frankfurt, Germany. After being put through a body scanner, he was taken into the recovery room where he excreted 96 wraps of heroin he ingested with a total weight of 1.413kgs.

Meanwhile, NDLEA operatives on patrol along Okene -Lokoja-Abuja expressway on Tuesday 10th October intercepted a commercial bus travelling from Lagos to Kano. A search of the bus led to the seizure of $4,880,000 and CFA57,000,000 suspected to be counterfeits.

The statement also added that “In Sokoto, the Federal High Court in the state capital presided over by Justice Ahmad Mahmud has sentenced an acting district head, Alhaji Umar Mohammed (aka Dan Bala) to five and a half years in jail on four count charges of possession and dealing in 436.38kgs cannabis and 7kgs psychotropic drugs brought against him by NDLEA in October 2022. He was convicted and sentenced to two years on each of counts 1 and 2 with an option of N1million fine, and eight months on each of counts 3 and 4 without an option of fine.

“Operatives in Edo state on Wednesday 11th October stormed the Orue forest, Owan West LGA where they arrested Happy Akashili, 37, and Solomon Uwesue, 40 in a hut located inside a cannabis farm measuring 2.367308 hectares which was destroyed, with 92kgs already processed skunk recovered, while 49kgs of same substance were also seized at Ogbeturu camp”.

However, NDLEA said its commands across the country have continued to balance their drug supply reduction operations with War Against Drug Abuse, WADA, advocacy campaigns to schools, markets, worship centres and communities.

According to the statement, “these include: WADA sensitisation lecture on Drug Use and Mental Health for students of 15 secondary schools in Ibadan metropolis at the University of Ibadan, Oyo state; WADA sensitisation lecture for students of Ascension College, Iworo Imeke, Badagry Lagos; WADA sensitisation lecture at Modern Comprehensive College, Amokwe, Udi LGA, Enugu; WADA sensitisation lecture for students of National Secondary school, Awka; Students of JIBWIS Islamic Science Secondary school, Herwagana, Gombe; students of Government College, Makurdi, Benue; students of Government secondary school (Boys), Kafin Maiyaki, Kano and students of JNI Special Model primary School, Gusau, Zamfara.”

Meanwhile, the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (Retd) has commended the efforts of the NAIA, MMIA, Kogi, Sokoto and Edo Commands of the Agency as well as the Special Operations Unit targeting the drug cartels, for jobs well done in the past week.

Marwa assured that officers and men of the Agency will never let down their guards no matter the tricks and distractions orchestrated against it by criminal networks.

(Daily Post)

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