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NDLEA busts ‘Mkpuru Mmiri’ labs in Lagos, Anambra, seizes N54.8bn drug

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has busted two major clandestine laboratories in Lagos and Anambra states, where dangerous illicit drug, crystal methamphetamine, locally…

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has busted two major clandestine laboratories in Lagos and Anambra states, where dangerous illicit drug, crystal methamphetamine, locally known as ‘Mkpuru Mmiri’, were produced for distribution across Nigeria and for export.

Chairman/Chief Executive of the NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Mohammed Buba Marwa (retd), said this on Tuesday in Abuja at a news conference.

According to him, the raid followed an outbreak of crystal methamphetamine abuse in the last quarter of 2021, predominantly in the South East and the cry for help from many communities in the region because of the devastating effects the distribution and abuse of the dangerous stimulant drug had on the users, especially youths.

“The agency deployed all available assets to find the primary source of manufacturing of the drug in Nigeria and arrest the barons behind it,” Marwa said.

He said that efforts in the past seven months against the cartel behind the Methamphetamine scourge led to the arrest of four kingpins and a cook.

He said, “Now, we have added two barons and another cook. This no doubt is a loud statement to those involved in the criminal illicit drug trade that it’s time for them to quit or risk losing it all; that is losing their freedom, investment and assets acquired through proceeds from the illegal business.

“I am pleased to inform the public today that after months of painstaking intelligence gathering, diligent tracking and coordinated offensive action, we recorded a breakthrough on Saturday, July 30, 2022, when officers and men of the agency successfully busted two methamphetamine manufacturing facilities, called meth laboratories.

“The first one, located in Victoria Garden City (VGC) Estate of Lekki, Lagos, is owned by a baron, Chris Emeka Nzewi, while the second, in Nise Community of Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State was owned by Paul Ozoemenam.

“The owners of these two illicit meth laboratories were successfully arrested alongside Sunday Ukah from Aba, Abia State, the cook or chemist that produced the drugs for them.

“The laboratory in Lagos was set up inside the Boys’ Quarter building of a four-bedroom duplex. From there, we recovered a total of 258.74kgs of crystal methamphetamine and various precursor chemicals used for the production of the toxic drug.

“The complete paraphernalia of laboratory equipment such as gas cylinders, giant gas burners, industrial face masks, industrial gloves, tubes and flat-bottomed conical flasks, among others were also found.”

The NDLEA boss further said that meth production posed danger to the public health particularly for neighbours living around the area where it is produced.

He said, “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 soakaway in the compound, with a high risk of contamination of the water table of the entire neighbourhood.

“On the average, the lab produced 50 kilos of methamphetamine every week with plans underway to increase the capacity of production to at least 100kg per week.

“Where do these drugs end? From our preliminary interrogation, we now know the drugs from this lab were both for export and local consumption. We also know there is a supply chain of distributors and buyers for export and the domestic market.

“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 times, 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.

“Hence, taking these two labs out of operation is a major feat in our continuing effort to curb the meth problem.”

By Buba’s account, the 258.74kgs of meth recovered runs into over $129 million or about N54.8bn (at official exchange rate).

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