NDLEA seizes N2.8b drugs at Lagos airport
NARCOTIC drugs weighing 455.215kg, with a street value of N2.8 billion, as well as $2.5 million, have been confiscated at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, by operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) between January and June this year.
Also, 75 suspected drug traffickers and money launderers, comprising 62 males and 13 females, were arrested in connection with the seizures.
The intercepted money included the $2.1 million seized from a bureau de change operator, which had been transferred to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for further investigation.
Fifteen arrests (the highest) were recorded on Emirates Airlines, while Qatar Airways had 11, Ethiopian Airlines eight and Etihad Airways seven.
Giving a breakdown of the seized drugs, the Lagos Airport NDLEA Commander, Hamza Umar, said they included 138.304kg of cannabis sativa, 133kg of ephedrine, 93.85kg of methamphetamine, 43.426kg of cocaine and 42.025kg of tramadol. “We also seized $2.5 million within the period,” he added. “The money includes the $2.1 million seized from one Mr. Ibiteye John Bamidele, who is a bureau de change operator, as well as other financial seizures totaling $403,825.”
He disclosed that the agency detected several modes of concealment being adopted by the suspects, noting: “22 suspects were arrested for ingesting drugs, 33 caught with drugs packed inside their luggage, while six others were found to have packed drugs on their bodies in a bid to evade arrest. “Thirty-nine of the suspects were caught during outward screening attempting to smuggle drugs out of the country.
Seven of them were going to China, where drug trafficking attracts death penalty; 28 others were apprehended during inward screening operations, with 23 of them coming from Brazil.”
According to the NDLEA Chairman, Ahmadu Giade, illicit drug proceeds are highly injurious to the economy, therefore Nigeria cannot afford to handle drug trafficking with kid gloves.
He noted: “Illicit funds generated by drug trafficking are 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 the available resources at our disposal.”