The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency has said that it seized narcotic drugs weighing 455.215 kilogrammes between January and June this year at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.
In a statement on Tuesday, the agency said that the drugs, whose street value is estimated at N2.8 billion, was seized alongside US$2.5 million cash.
According to the NDLEA, 75 suspected drug traffickers and money launderers – 62 males and 13 females – were arrested in connection with the seizures.
“The intercepted money includes $2.1 million dollars seized from a bureau de change operator which had been transferred to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for further investigation,” the anti-narcotics agency said in the statement issued by Mitchell Ofoyeju, its spokesperson.
“Fifteen (15) arrests were recorded on Emirates airline being the most preferred flight for those apprehended. Qatar airways had eleven (11) arrests, Ethiopian airline followed closely with eight (8) arrests and Etihad airways seven (7) arrests.”
A breakdown of the seized drugs by the agency showed that cannabis sativa is the highest trafficked drug with 138.304kg, ephedrine 133kg, methamphetamine 93.85kg, cocaine 43.426kg and tramadol 42.025kg.
“We also seized 2.5 million dollars cash within the period,” said Hamza Umar, the NDLEA Commander at the Lagos airport.
“The money include the 2.1 million dollars seized from one Mr. Ibiteye John Bamidele who is a bureau de change operator as well as other financial seizures totaling $403,825.”
Mr. Umar noted that several modes of concealment adopted by the suspects were detected by the agency.
“22 suspects were arrested for ingesting drugs, 33 were caught with drugs packed inside their luggage while 6 others were found to have packed drugs on their bodies all in a bid to evade arrest,’ he said.
“Thirty-nine (39) of the suspects were caught during outward screening attempting to smuggle drugs out of the country. Seven among them were going to China where drug trafficking attracts death penalty.
“Twenty-eight (28) others were apprehended during inward screening operations with twenty three (23) of them coming from Brazil.’
Ahmadu Giade, Chairman, NDLEA, said that illicit drug proceeds are highly injurious to the economy and that Nigeria cannot afford to handle drug trafficking with kid gloves.
“Illicit funds generated by drug trafficking is colossal,” Mr. Giade said.
“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 available resources at our disposal.”
The NDLEA boss assured Nigerians that the Agency is working very hard to dismantle more drug syndicates.
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