NDLEA arrests members of Fentanyl syndicate in Anambra
• Vows to hunt down others in killer trade
Operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) have arrested members of a syndicate involved in the illicit importation and trafficking of lethal synthetic opioid, Fentanyl.
Fentanyl, also spelled fentanil, is a highly potent synthetic piperidine opioid drug primarily used as an analgesic. Because fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, its primary clinical utility is in pain management for cancer patients and those recovering from painful surgical operations. Fentanyl is also used as a sedative.
Fentanyl’s ease of manufacture and high potency makes it easier to produce and smuggle, resulting in fentanyl replacing other abused narcotics and becoming more widely used.
The Guardian learnt that Fentanyl is 100 times stronger than tramadol and capable of causing mass casualty among the youth population being targeted by the cartels.
Spokesperson for the Agency, Femi Babafemi, yesterday, said the two members of the syndicate: Odoh Collins Oguejiofor and Oliver Chigozie Uzoma were arrested at Ogbogwu market, Onitsha Head Bridge, Onitsha South Local Council of Anambra State.
According to him, the well-coordinated clinical operation was coming on the heels of an alert issued by the anti-narcotics Agency on Tuesday, November 22, 2022, that some criminal elements were plotting to flood the Nigerian market with the drug, which is currently responsible for over 70 per cent overdose deaths, as well as a major contributor to fatal and nonfatal overdoses in the United States (U.S.).
According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Fentanyl is 80 times as potent as morphine and 100 times more potent than heroin.
“Following credible intelligence and synergy with local and international partners, the NDLEA was able to mobilise necessary assets to trace the illicitly manufactured drug to the Ogbogwu market, Onitsha Head Bridge, reputed to be the largest drug market in West Africa, after months of undercover monitoring.
“Convinced that the Agency has gathered sufficient evidence to nail the suspects, Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Brig. Gen. Mohammed Buba Marwa (Retd), ordered a deployment of operatives to pick members of the syndicate one after the other.
“Odoh Collins Oguejiofor was the first to be arrested while on a business mission with packets of 100 microgrammes of Fentanyl, while the arrest of Uzoma, who is a major dealer in other illicitly manufactured pharmaceutical opioids, including Fentanyl, followed.
“While packs of liquid Fentanyl were recovered from Odoh, different quantities of banned and controlled drugs, including Fentanyl were seized from Uzoma.
“They include: Ampules of Fentanyl injection; Ozempic solution for injection in pre-filled pens; Ampules of Sustanon 250mg/ml; Ampules of Rivavirin injection 200mg/2ml; Ampules of Erythropoietin injection; Ampules of Recombinant Anti Rho-D Immunoglobulin injection 300mg; Ampules of Pethidine 100mg/2ml solution for injection and Zoladex 3.6mg Goserelin,” Babafemi added in a statement.
Reacting to the arrest of members of the syndicate, Marwa commended all officers and men of the Agency involved in the operation while directing them to intensify the crackdown on other members of the cartel who may have gone underground.
“We’ll no doubt hunt down every member of this criminal gang before they do further harm to our public health especially our youth population.
“In the meantime, I’ll like to thank our international partners for the huge confidence in us and their support and partnership for the benefit of humanity. In the same vein, I’ll urge parents and other stakeholders to be vigilant, alert and warn their young ones against attempting experimenting with this illicit substance.
“The Agency wishes to reiterate that exposure to this lethal opioid, which could come in different forms, as has been shown by the seizure, may result in pinpoint pupils, falling asleep or losing consciousness, slow and shallow breathing, choking or gurgling sounds, limp body, and pale, blue, or cold skin,” Marwa stated.
Pinpoint pupils, or myosis, occur when the pupils shrink to a small size. This can be the result of certain conditions and medications.
Growling, rumbling, or gurgling can come from the stomach or the small intestines (small bowel). The noises are commonly linked to hunger because they’re typically louder when the stomach or intestines are empty.
A limp body is lacking stiffness or firmness, as of substance, fibre, structure, or bodily frame.