urges people who are involved in the illegal drug trade to stop or risk losing everything.
Methamphetamine production facilities have been shut down by National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) agents, who also apprehended those responsible for the Mkpuru Mmiri cartel in Victoria Garden City (VGC) Estate of Lekki, Lagos, and Nise town in Anambra State.
Brig-Mohammed Buba Marwa (Rtd), the Chairman and Managing Director of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), who made this announcement on Tuesday, stated that the arrested individuals will be charged to court after the investigation was complete.
The victories, according to Marwa, were discovered on Saturday after months of meticulous intelligence gathering, vigilant tracking, and coordinated offensive action. Marwa stated this at a news conference in Abuja.
He claimed that many communities in the region cried out for assistance as a result of the devastating effects that the distribution and abuse of the risky stimulant drug were having on their youth and others following reports on the outbreak of crystal methamphetamine abuse in the last quarter of 2021 in the South Eastern region of the country.
He claimed that Sunday Ukah from Aba, Abia State, who served as their cook or chemist, was detained alongside the labs owned by baron Chris Emeka Nzewi in Lekki and Paul Ozoemenam in Nise Community of Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State.
The laboratory in Lagos, where a total of 258.74 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine and numerous precursor chemicals used in the creation of the dangerous drug were found, was set up inside the Boys’ Quarter building of a four-bedroom duplex, according to the NDLEA boss.
The entire complement
There were additional pieces of laboratory apparatus like gas cylinders, enormous gas burners, industrial face masks, industrial gloves, tubes, and flat-bottomed conical flasks, among others.
He pointed out that the Agency decided it was appropriate to inform the public about the recent busts in order to increase awareness of the threat that meth manufacturing poses to public health and to inform them of the tactics used by the barons engaged in the unwholesome activity.
“The owner of the laboratory in VGC, for instance, was producing this highly unstable and toxic drug in a house where he lived with his family. This speaks volumes about his insensitivity to the consequences of exposing his family, which includes a three-month-old baby, to the danger of hazardous chemicals. If that is the case, that is an indication that public health was of no concern to him.
“In this particular case, aside from the laboratory being close to the kitchen of the main house, the waste from the laboratory was channelled into the septic tank and soak away in the compound, with a high risk of contamination of the water table of the entire neighbourhood”.
He claimed that the suspect, who was living in a hotel at Admiralty Way Lekki Phase I while work was being done on his home, was apprehended by agency agents who had been following him for weeks. The suspect had his car parked in the complex to give the impression that he was at home.
He claimed that the cook was also staying in a hotel outside the estate, where Chris Emeka Nzewi had left a sizable deposit to cover the cost of the cook’s lodging for up to a month.
The NDLEA boss claimed that the lab typically produced 50 kg of methamphetamine per week, with plans to increase production to at least 100 kg per week. He also stated that preliminary questioning revealed that the drugs from the lab were intended for both local and export consumption, with a supply chain of distributors and buyers for both the domestic and international markets.
He stated: “When you consider the fact that the price of this dangerous drug was going for as high as $500,000 per kilo in the international market in recent time, you will understand why Nzewi cared less to put the lives of his own family at risk by producing this in the same house where they live.
“This operation also exposed the interconnectivity among syndicates involved in meth production. For instance, the cook was hired by both producers. He produced for the VGC lab, as well as the lab in Anambra.
“As we step up the offensive against drug traffickers, we want the public to be more vigilant and be aware of the fact that producers of methamphetamine always choose unsuspecting environments with tight security, like the VGC estate, in this case. And the reason is not far-fetched: They choose secured estates to prevent law enforcement agents from monitoring their activities.
“They also locate meth labs in remote unsuspecting communities where residents would not be aware of their activities. It is very important to note that the waste from methamphetamine production is dangerous to the ecosystem. The chemicals are toxic and once they seep into the soil, they contaminate the water table from which surrounding wells and boreholes draw their water.
“And citizens, who unwittingly consume the water from such sources are exposed to heart and kidney ailments and other organ diseases. Neighbours, too, who inhale gases from the lab are also susceptible to the same risk.
“What makes it worse is that the production usually takes place in the middle of the night, between 11 pm and 4 am, and therefore, unsuspecting neighbours could have been exposed to the hazards for months or even years”, he added.
Marwa consequently urged the general populace to collaborate with the Agency in order to protect their health and rid the nation of illegal substances.
While praising the professionalism of the Agency’s intelligence-led special units assigned to the task, the forensic experts, and the 200-man strike force team deployed to carry out the mission of destroying the labs, seizing the crystal meth, precursors, and paraphernalia, and arresting the offenders, Marwa pointed out that, since the start of the offensive action against the cartel responsible for the Methamphetamine scourge, the Agency has arrested four kingpins and two cooks, as well as two barons.