Abuja — The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has smashed a major International drug syndicate of two Chinese nationals including their Nigerian clearing agent that smuggles cocaine from South American countries to West Africa.
The arrest was following the interception of over 450kg of cocaine unlawfully imported from Chile; with an estimated street value of over 4 billion naira being the second largest ever intercepted in the country by the agency. Chairman of the agency, Ahmadu Giade while speaking to LEADERSHIP yesterday, described the seizure as a major breakthrough in the country's counter narcotics efforts.
"The entire operation was intelligence-based and professionally executed. This is the second largest seizure of cocaine next to the 14.2 tons made at the same port in 2006. "The quantity is frightening and the street value paints a horrendous picture of the illicit drug trade. Apart from the estimated street value in the country the value would have doubled in Europe. The seizure is exciting to us. It is also a wakeup call for all hands to be on deck," Giade stated.
The NDLEA boss assured that investigations were ongoing to get other members of the syndicate arrested. The anti-drug agency had kept tab on the consignment which originated from Chile and passed through Peru, Bolivia and Antwerpen in Belgium to Tin Can Island Port (TCIP).
According to Giade, "the drug was neatly concealed in customised floor wood inside a container which was cleared and taken to a private warehouse at Iganmu, Lagos. The agency is determined to send all drug barons out of circulation to prevent criminal acts capable of disrupting peace and stability in the country. I have therefore called for total security alertness in all entry and exit points. State Commanders have also been placed on red alert to ensure effective surveillance and prompt arrests and seizures of any illicit drug shipment," Giade stressed.
Agency checks disclosed that the clearing agent and other people closely linked to the seizure were also apprehended to ascertain their level of involvement as all the clearing documents had fake addresses on them. Drug seizures at the ports are usually very large because of the relative ease of transporting containerised goods in vessels and the volume of imported containers.
The NDLEA boss commended the perseverance and commitment of the undercover officers that spent days and nights on the field in making "Operation Chile" very successful. He promised that Nigeria would not only sustain the country's leading position in drug control but also improve on it.