The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, on Sunday announced the arrest of five leaders of syndicates operating in different parts of the world.
The special operation lasted weeks during which different quantities of skunk, methamphetamine and ephedrine as well as air compressors used to conceal and distribute them globally were seized.
A statement by NDLEA Media Director, Femi Babafemi, said the cartel leaders were spread across UAE, Benin Republic, Togo, Oman, Thailand, Europe, and in the Nigerian states of Lagos, Imo and Anambra.
Babafemi said while on Christmas and New Year holidays in various parts of Nigeria, they were still coordinating efforts to send illicit consignments to Dubai and other countries.
Their cover was exposed on December 29 when their freight agent, Onyeisue Collins Chukwudi was arrested by NDLEA officers at the SAHCO export shed of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, MMIA, Lagos.
Chukwudi attempted to export three big automobile air compressors to Dubai and a follow-up operation led to the recovery of additional five compressors in his home at 24 Legacy Road, Ayobo, Lagos.
A total of 27.50kgs of skunk were taken out of the air compressors after welding tools were used to cut them open.
Discovering the agent was working for a bigger organized criminal group, the NDLEA deployed operatives to track the first kingpin, Onuoha Peter Obioma who lives in Benin Republic and Togo, but visited Lagos occasionally.
On January 7, Obioma walked into the waiting arms of operatives with a bag containing additional air compressors used to conceal 15.7kg of skunk and methamphetamine.
His statement led to the unravelling of two other cartel leaders: Dubai-based Ugo Kelechi Alex (aka KC) and Iwueke Ugochukwu (aka Odugwu), an Anambra-based businessman, who were still enjoying the Christmas and New Year holidays in Imo.
They were arrested during an operation on January 10 at their ancestral homes in Umuobi village in Igbejere community, Ihitti-Uboma LGA, Imo where a Lexus SUV and a Toyota jeep were recovered from them.
After days of surveillance, the NDLEA eventually nabbed the cartel boss, Ezenwekwe Obinna Nicodemus, an automobile parts dealer at Alaba International Market, at a bar in Mazamaza, Mile 2, on January 14.
“A search of his home led to the recovery of 607g of ephedrine, a handful of cannabis weighing 20g as well as other paraphernalia, including 271g of dimethyl sulfone used as a cutting agent for ephedrine,” Babafemi said.
Also recovered from him were a chemical precursor and an active ingredient for the production of methamphetamine, a weighing scale and an international passport.
Meanwhile, no fewer than 2,601.5 kilograms of cannabis and 102,500 pills of pharmaceutical opioids were seized during interdiction operations across Plateau, Edo, Delta, Taraba, Kogi, Kano, Lagos and Adamawa States in the past week.