The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) arrested 288 drug offenders in Abia from January to date.
The state Commander for NDLEA, Mr Bamidele Akingbade, gave the figure in Aba on Thursday during a press briefing to mark the 2020 International Day Against Drug Abuse and Drug Trafficking commemorated every June 26.
Akingbade said that the 2020 celebration would be with the theme: “Better Knowledge for a Better Care”, aimed at increased enlightenment on the dangers of drug abuse and drug trafficking and ensure better care for drug dependent persons.
“This year, we will not be organising a rally in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Between January 2020 and June 2020, we arrested 263 male suspects and 25 female suspects, totaling 288 suspects,” he said.
Akingbade said that the command convicted 21 suspects and had 35 pending cases in court.
“Four vehicles we impounded have also been finally forfeited to the Federal Government while two are under interim forfeiture for being used by drug gangs.
“Within the period under review, we seized almost 400kg of illicit substances.
“We have seized 399.5 kg of illicit substances consisting of 347.420 kg of Cannabis, 0.086 kg of Cocaine and 0.210 of Heroin, 50.309 kg of psychotropic substances and 2kg of Monkey Tail.
“We have alerted the state government that during the lockdown, some criminals entered the state to start cultivation of Cannabis.
“We also discovered a Cannabis farm in Achara, Arochukwu Local Government Area, although we are yet to ascertain the number of acres it covers; we have got a sample of the plant,” he said.
Akingbade said the command had also counselled about 66 drug dependent persons, comprising 65 males and one female within the ages of 22 to 44 years, at its rehabilitation centre.
He decried alleged takeover of some secondary and primary schools in the state by drug peddlers, following closure of schools because of COVID-19.
He said that the agency was doing its best to ensure that such criminals were flushed out from the schools and markets such as Ahia Ohuru, Ariaria Black Kingdom and the Milverton Road Motor Park.
He said that some suspects were arrested in Umuahia for engaging in illegal drugs businesses that ruined the lives of youths.
He advised youths to desist from using banned drugs, saying that drug users did not have a good chance of surviving novel coronavirus infection.
Akingbade appealed to Abia Government to assist the commmand with vehicles to maximise operations.