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How NDLEA busted methamphetamine labs in Lagos, Anambra, arrested two barons

Operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) have busted methamphetamine laboratories in Victoria Garden City (VGC) Estate of Lekki, Lagos and Nise community in Anambra State and arrested those behind the Mkpuru Mmiri cartel.

The Chairman and Managing Director of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Brig-Mohammed Buba Marwa (Rtd), who disclosed this on Tuesday said, the arrested suspects would be charged to court on the completion of the investigation.

Marwa told a press conference in Abuja that, the successes were recorded on Saturday after months of painstaking intelligence gathering, diligent tracking and coordinated offensive action,

Following reports on the outbreak of crystal methamphetamine abuse in the last quarter of 2021 in the South Eastern part of the country, he said many communities in the area cried for help because of the devastating effects the distribution and abuse of the dangerous stimulant drug were having on their youths and others.

He said, the Lekki laboratory owned by a baron, Chris Emeka Nzewi and the second one in Nise Community of Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State, owned by Paul Ozoemenam were arrested alongside Sunday Ukah from Aba, Abia State, who is the cook or chemist that produced the drugs for them.

According to the NDLEA boss, the laboratory in Lagos was set up inside the Boys’ Quarter building of a four-bedroom duplex, from where a total of 258.74 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine and various precursor chemicals used for the production of the toxic drug were recovered.

The complete paraphernalia Laboratory equipment such as gas cylinders, giant gas burners, industrial face masks, industrial gloves, tubes and flat-bottomed conical flasks, among others were also found.

The Agency, he noted deemed it fit to brief the public about the recent busts to raise people’s awareness of the danger that meth production constitutes to public health and to also let the public know the modus operandi of the barons involved in the unwholesome activity.

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“The owner of the laboratory in VGC, for instance, was producing this highly unstable and toxic drug in a house where he lived with his family. This speaks volumes about his insensitivity to the consequences of exposing his family, which includes a three-month-old baby, to the danger of hazardous chemicals. If that is the case, that is an indication that public health was of no concern to him.

“In this particular case, aside from the laboratory being close to the kitchen of the main house, the waste from the laboratory was channelled into the septic tank and soak away in the compound, with a high risk of contamination of the water table of the entire neighbourhood”.

He said the suspect, who was living in a hotel at the Admiralty Way Lekki Phase I while production was ongoing in his house, with his vehicle parked in the compound to give the false impression that he was at home was arrested by operatives of the Agency who had been on his track for weeks.

The cook, he said, was also lodged in a hotel outside the estate where Chris Emeka Nzewi had deposited a huge amount of money for his accommodation for up to one month.

On average, the NDLEA boss said, the lab produced 50 kilos of methamphetamine every week with plans underway to increase the capacity of production to at least 100kg per week and added that, preliminary interrogation showed that the drugs from the lab were both for export and local consumption, with a supply chain of distributors and buyers for export and the domestic market.

He said: “When you consider the fact that the price of this dangerous drug was going for as high as $500,000 per kilo in the international market in recent time, you will understand why Nzewi cared less to put the lives of his own family at risk by producing this in the same house where they live.

“This operation also exposed the interconnectivity among syndicates involved in meth production. For instance, the cook was hired by both producers. He produced for the VGC lab, as well as the lab in Anambra.

“As we step up the offensive against drug traffickers, we want the public to be more vigilant and be aware of the fact that producers of methamphetamine always choose unsuspecting environments with tight security, like the VGC estate, in this case. And the reason is not far-fetched: They choose secured estates to prevent law enforcement agents from monitoring their activities.

“They also locate meth labs in remote unsuspecting communities where residents would not be aware of their activities. It is very important to note that the waste from methamphetamine production is dangerous to the ecosystem. The chemicals are toxic and once they seep into the soil, they contaminate the water table from which surrounding wells and boreholes draw their water.

“And citizens, who unwittingly consume the water from such sources are exposed to heart and kidney ailments and other organ diseases. Neighbours, too, who inhale gases from the lab are also susceptible to the same risk.

“What makes it worse is that the production usually takes place in the middle of the night, between 11 pm and 4 am, and therefore, unsuspecting neighbours could have been exposed to the hazards for months or even years”, he added.

Marwa, therefore, called on the general public to work in partnership with the Agency to safeguard their health and to clean the Augean stable of illicit drugs in the country.

While commending the professionalism of the Agency’s intelligence-led special units assigned to the task, the forensic experts and the 200-man strike force team deployed to execute the mission of dismantling the labs, seizing the crystal meth, precursors, paraphernalia and arresting the culprits, Marwa noted that, since the launch of the offensive action against the cartel behind the Methamphetamine scourge, the Agency has arrested four kingpins and a cook, two barons and another cook.

He warned those involved in the criminal illicit drug trade to quit or risk losing it all, “that is losing their freedom, investment and assets acquired through proceeds from the illegal business.”

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How NDLEA busted methamphetamine labs in Lagos, Anambra, arrested two barons

How NDLEA busted methamphetamine labs in Lagos, Anambra, arrested two barons

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