On Thursday, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) revealed a major breakthrough in a drug case as it announced the arrest of a Colombian drug baron and seven Nigerians who specialize in the production of methamphetamine in some parts of the country.
Alhaji Ahmadu Giade Chairman of the NDLEA, who made this known while addressing newsmen, expressed concern over the health and security implication of illegal methamphetamine production in Nigeria.
He said two production factories were discovered in Lagos and Anambra States. Giade described the new wave of drug racketeering as sad and worrisome.
“Our investigation has shown that the Colombian methamphetamine production expert, Gonzelo Osorio a.k.a Fabian Arcila or Baez Benitez Milan, was invited to establish three clandestine laboratories on a $38,000 (about N6 million) weekly contract. This is sad and worrisome. It is a clarion call on stakeholders to pay priority attention on this dangerous twist in our nation’s drug trade,” he said.
Narcotics investigators have arrested seven Nigerian members of the criminal gang who are helping NDLEA in further investigations. The suspects are Gonzelo Osorio, Gabriel Onyebuchi Obi, Anthony Ebi, Olisa Cyprian Onyebuchukwu, Mickey Ezeokoli, Solomon Ogbonna and Chidi Alexandra Efeagwazi.
Twelve vehicles belonging to suspected members of the cartel have been confiscated. In addition, four houses have also been traced to the criminal group by the agency.
According to Giade, the undercover operation which led to the crackdown on the criminal gang commenced in November 2011 when Gonzelo Osorio was contracted by a Nigerian drug organization to establish three methamphetamine production laboratories in different parts of the country.
He described the operation as one of the best coordinated in terms of duration, expertise and professionalism by the agency.
The first clandestine laboratory Gonzelo established was situated at Majek area of Ibeju Lekki Local Council Area of Lagos State, while another one was located in Nanka village in Nnewi area of Anambra State.
The criminal gang was in the process of establishing the third laboratory when NDLEA officers apprehended them.
“Gonzelo Osorio left Nigeria in December 2011 and returned in May, 2012 with a false identity as a citizen of Paraguay with the name Baez Benitez Milan on his travel documents. He is regarded as the best methamphetamine production experts in their country and was hired on $38, 000 weekly by the drug cartel,” Giade said.
While the operation was ongoing, a suspect was apprehended in Lagos for using his residence for a personal production of methamphetamine. The reality of the threat, according to the agency, is that it is both a syndicate and a one-man affair.
“The concerted efforts of stakeholders are required. The suspects involved in the criminal act are either ignorant of the lethal health consequences of their action or have simply been blinded by their selfish interests. Methamphetamine production endangers public health. More worrisome is the security implication due to the huge profit involved,” Giade added.
It should be recalled that the first clandestine laboratory was discovered in June 2011 in Lagos. The second laboratory which was discovered in Lagos early this year, revealed the engagement of foreigners by local drug cells as three Bolivian expatriates who were running the laboratory were arrested and are currently undergoing trial.
In all, five production factories have been located by the agency.