Nigeria's anti-drug agency has arrested a Columbian drug kingpin and uncovered three production factories for methamphetamine, a prohibited drug in Africa's most populous nation, the agency said in a statement on Thursday.
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, said it apprehended Gonzelo Osorio, a Columbian, who is in Nigeria to establish methamphetamine factories on a weekly contract of $38,000.
The three factories were uncovered in Lagos, southwest Nigeria and in the country's south eastern state of Anambra.
The NDLEA Chairman, Mr. Ahmadu Giade described the development as sad and worrisome.
"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," Giade said.
NDLEA said narcotic investigators have arrested a total of seven suspects in connection with the crime.
The suspects are Gonzelo Osorio, Gabriel Onyebuchi Obi, Anthony Ebi, Olisa Cyprian Onyebuchukwu, Mickey Ezeokoli, Solomon Ogbonna and Chidi Alexandra Efeagwazi.
The agency said twelve vehicles belonging to suspected members of the cartel have also been confiscated as well as four houses traced to the syndicate.
NDLEA said the undercover operation that led to the crackdown on the criminal gang commenced in November 2011 when Osorio was contracted by a Nigerian drug syndicate to establish three methamphetamine production laboratories in different parts of the country.
The first clandestine laboratory the Columbian established was situated at Majek area of Ibeju Lekki Local Government in Lagos State, while another one was located in Nanka village in Nnewi area of Anambra State in Eastern Nigeria.
The criminal gang were in the process of establishing the third laboratory when they were apprehended, NDLEA said.
"Gonzelo-Osorio left the country in December 2011 and returned on 30 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 expert in the country and was hired on $38,000 dollars weekly by the drug cartel," Giade said.
While the operation was on-going, another suspect was apprehended in Lagos for using his residence for production of methamphetamine, NDLEA said.
"Methamphetamine production endangers public health. More worrisome is the security implication due to the huge profit involved," Giade said.
The first clandestine laboratory was discovered in June 2011 in Lagos. The second laboratory also 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 uncovered by the NDLEA.
The chemicals and the gasses emitted during production are highly injurious. Even residents living close to a production area are also at risk, NDLEA said.
Thursday, 27 December 2012