The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has intercepted large consignments of cocaine from Brazil routed through major international airports in Port Harcourt, Abuja and Lagos.
The agency arrested seven suspected drug barons connected with the consignments.
A statement issued by NDLEA’s spokesman, Femi Babafemi on Sunday, said at the Port Harcourt International Airport, five suspects were arrested on Saturday, 9th April.
He said three of them were arrested during the inward screening of passengers on board Qatar Airline flight QR1433 from Doha to Port Harcourt.
“The three suspects departed Sao Paulo, Brazil on board same Qatar flight, en-route Doha to Abuja and Port Harcourt with a total of 24.96 kilograms of cocaine.
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“The first is 51-year-old Udogwu James Johnson who hails from Orlu LGA, Imo state. He was arrested with 5.48kg of cocaine concealed in lotion plastic bottles sealed with candle wax. He claimed he agreed to traffic the drug for a fee of N1 million.
“Also arrested is Ezekwueme Ifeanyi Valentine, 32, from Aguata LGA, Anambra State, who was caught with 10.82kg cocaine packed in 84 sachets concealed in seven duvets, while the third trafficker, Chiezie Ikechukwu Arinze, 35, from Dunukofia LGA, Anambra State, was arrested with 8.66kg cocaine hidden in 115 golden and silver colour 30ml breakable bottles factory packaged with lotion on top,” he disclosed.
Babafemi added that the fourth suspect, Uchechukwu Onwugbufor, 42, from Idemili North LGA, Anambra State, was arrested at the airport car park while waiting to receive one of the traffickers, Udogwu James and his consignment.
“He claimed he was contacted by someone in Brazil to receive Udogwu and lead him to Lagos for a fee of N100, 000. Uchechukwu Onwugbufor was at the Airport with his neigbour, Nwogu Ezimadu, who is equally being investigated to determine if he’s complicit in the crime or not.
“At the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, NAIA, Abuja, a Psychology graduate of Imo State University, Owerri, Sebastine Emeka Kelvin, 30, was arrested with 74 pellets of cocaine weighing 1.454kg on arrival aboard Ethiopian Airline flight enroute Doula- Addis Ababa-Abuja on Wednesday 13th April.
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“The father of one who claims he’s a motor spare parts dealer is from Ezeagu in Ezeagu LGA, Enugu state. He said he’s lived in Cameroon for six years before going into the drug business to raise money to boost his trade. He added that he was introduced to the man who gave him the drugs at Addis Ababa by another person serving jail term for drug offence at the Doula Newbell Prison,” he disclosed further.
The NDLEA spokesman revealed that in Lagos, another Brazil-based passenger, Uba Samuel was arrested at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, MMIA, by NDLEA operatives on Friday 15th April on arrival aboard Ethiopian Airline flight from Sao Paulo via Addis Ababa to Lagos with sachets of cocaine weighing 633grams concealed in his footwear and toothpaste tube.
He explained that the suspect who claimed to be a shoemaker and barber hails from Umunneochi, Abia State.
“While accepting ownership of the drug, he said he used his shoe-making knowledge to conceal the drug in his pair of sandals. Uba, who is a regular traveller confessed he bought the drug to sell at a market in Abia.
Chairman/Chief Executive of NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (Retd) commended the officers and men of the PHIA, NAIA, MMIA, Yobe, and Kogi Commands of the Agency for disrupting desperate attempts by drug cartels to traffic dangerous drugs into Nigeria and across the country.
He said the huge seizures at the airports will send a strong message to drug barons that Nigeria will no longer be their safe destination or transit route.