A drug baron on the wanted list of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), identified as Joachin Mbonu, has been apprehended. Mbonu was arrested by NDLEA operatives at his mansion in Imo State on July 5.

The agency’s spokesperson, Femi Babafemi, announced on Tuesday that Mbonu was detained alongside his associate. Mbonu is reportedly a key member of a drug cartel involved in the production and distribution of methamphetamine.

Babafemi stated, “A major drug cartel behind the production and distribution of the deadly psychoactive substance, methamphetamine, known locally as ‘Mkpuru mmiri,’ has been dismantled by NDLEA operatives. The leader of the syndicate, 42-year-old Joachin Chikaodi Mbonu, and his associate were arrested at his mansion in Umuomi village, Uzogba-Ezenomi autonomous community, Ikeduru Local Government Area of Imo State.”

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The cartel, which operated bases in Imo and Rivers states, became a target for the NDLEA following intelligence that linked it to the distribution of large quantities of methamphetamine across the South-East, South-South, and other parts of the country.

During the operation, NDLEA operatives recovered 419.99 grams of methamphetamine, 750 grams of iodine, a pump-action gun, and four cartridges, among other items.

Babafemi elaborated, “After weeks of surveillance, officers of a special operations unit tracked and traced the drug lord to his village mansion in Imo State on Friday, July 5, 2024. Mbonu was caught along with a cartel member, Kenneth Chibuike Ofoegbu, 34. Recovered items included 419.99 grams of methamphetamine, 750 grams of iodine, 500 grams of sodium bicarbonate, two electronic weighing scales, and a pump-action gun with four cartridges.”

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The operatives also raided the residences of Mbonu’s associates in Rivers and Imo states, seizing several illicit drugs.

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Babafemi added, “In a swift move, operatives raided another of Mbonu’s hideouts at 11 Redemption Avenue, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, recovering 750 grams of processed sodium bicarbonate, 170 grams of plain sodium bicarbonate, and 75 grams of meth. Another raid at the home of Mbonu’s associate, Odoemenam Pedro Chinedu, who is currently at large, in Njaba LGA, Imo State, led to the recovery of another pump-action gun with 25 cartridges, among other items. While the kingpin remains in custody, two of his mansions in Imo State have been marked for possible forfeiture to the Federal Government.”

Mbonu had previously escaped from South Africa, where he was under investigation for drug dealings and had mastered the production of methamphetamine. Upon returning to Nigeria, he continued his illicit trade by setting up clandestine laboratories in remote villages to evade detection.