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NDLEA busts cocaine cartels, arrests seven traffickers

Attempts by Brazil-based drug cartels to smuggle large consignments of cocaine into Nigeria through three major international airports in Port Harcourt, Abuja and Lagos, have been countered by operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, leading to the arrest of seven traffickers.

The NDLEA spokesperson, Femi Babafemi, who disclosed this in a statement on Sunday said three of the suspects were arrested during the inward screening of passengers onboard a Qatar airline flight from Doha to Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

Babafemi explained that the three suspects departed Sao Paulo, Brazil, on board the same Qatar flight, en-route Doha to Abuja and Port Harcourt with a total of 24.96 kilogrammes of cocaine.

NDLEA said the first suspect, 51-year-old Udogwu Johnson, who claimed to traffic the drug for a fee of N1m was arrested with 5.48kg of cocaine concealed in lotion plastic bottles sealed with candle wax.

The agency also arrested 32-year-old Ezekwueme Valentine, who was caught with 10.82kg cocaine packed in 84 sachets concealed in seven duvets, while the third trafficker, Chiezie Arinze, 35, was arrested with 8.66kg cocaine hidden in 115 golden and silver colour 30ml breakable bottles factory packaged with lotion on top.

Babafemi said the fourth suspect, Uchechukwu Onwugbufor, 42, was arrested at the airport car park while waiting to receive one of the traffickers, Udogwu James, and his consignment.

“He claimed he was contacted by someone in Brazil to receive Udogwu and lead him to Lagos for a fee of N100,000. Uchechukwu Onwugbufor was at the airport with his neighbour, Nwogu Ezimadu, who is equally being investigated to determine if he’s complicit in the crime or not.

“At the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, a Psychology graduate of Imo State University, Owerri, Sabastine Kelvin, 30, was arrested with 74 pellets of cocaine weighing 1.454kg on arrival aboard an Ethiopian Airline flight en route Doula- Addis Ababa-Abuja on Wednesday, April 13.

“The father of one claims he’s a motor spare parts dealer from Ezeagu in Ezeagu LGA, Enugu State. He said he’s lived in Cameroon for six years before going into the drug business to raise money to boost his trade. He added that he was introduced to the man who gave him the drugs at Addis Ababa by another person serving a jail term for a drug offence at the Doula Newbell Prison.

“In Lagos, another Brazil-based passenger, Uba Samuel, was arrested at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, by NDLEA operatives on Friday, April 15, on arrival aboard an Ethiopian Airline flight from Sao Paulo via Addis Ababa to Lagos with sachets of cocaine weighing 633grams concealed in his footwear and toothpaste tube,” he said.

The suspect, who claimed to be a shoemaker and barber, hails from Umunneochi, Abia State.

While accepting ownership of the drug, he said he used his shoe-making knowledge to conceal the drug in his pair of sandals.

Uba, a regular traveller, reportedly confessed he bought the drug to sell at a market in Abia.

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