The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) seized narcotic drugs with estimated street value placed at N2.8 billion between January and June 2015 at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA) Lagos, the agency has announced.
Operatives of the agency also intercepted $2.5 million cash, while 75 suspected drug traffickers – including 62 males and 13 females – and money launderers were arrested in connection with the seizures. The drugs seized weighed 455.215kg.
The intercepted money includes $2.1 million dollars seized from a bureau de change operator which had been transferred to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for further investigation.
Emirates Air has the highest number of drug related arrests with 15 suspects, while Qatar Airways had 11 arrests. Ethiopian airline followed closely with eight (8) arrests and Etihad airways 7 arrests, which shows that a majority of the drug was being ferried to Asia.
NDLEA commander at the Lagos Airport, Mr. Hamza Umar gave a breakdown of the seized drugs as such: “The seized drugs include cannabis sativa 138.304kg, ephedrine 133kg, methamphetamine 93.85kg, cocaine 43.426kg and tramadol 42.025kg. We also seized 2.5 million dollars cash within the period. The money include the 2.1 million dollars seized from one Mr. Ibiteye John Bamidele who is a bureau de change operator as well as other financial seizures totaling $403,825.”
Hamza noted that several modes of concealment adopted by the suspects were detected by the Agency.
In his words, “22 suspects were arrested for ingesting drugs, 33 were caught with drugs packed inside their luggage while 6 others were found to have packed drugs on their bodies all in a bid to evade arrest. Thirty-nine (39) of the suspects were caught during outward screening attempting to smuggle drugs out of the country. Seven among them were going to China where drug trafficking attracts death penalty. Twenty-eight (28) others were apprehended during inward screening operations with twenty three (23) of them coming from Brazil”.
The Chairman/Chief Executive of the anti-narcotic Agency, Ahmadu Giade says illicit drug proceeds are highly injurious to the economy and that Nigeria cannot afford to handle drug trafficking with kid gloves.
“Illicit funds generated by drug trafficking is colossal. Such proceeds are unaccounted for and constitute a high risk in the coffers of drug syndicates which empowers them to sustain their inimical acts. As a result, we must continue to confront drug trafficking cartels with every sense of seriousness by deploying available resources at our disposal,” Giade said.
The NDLEA boss assured Nigerians that the Agency is working very hard to dismantle more drug syndicates.