Connect with us


NDLEA intercepts largest consignment of heroin at Lagos airport



The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has intercepted the largest consignment of heroin at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos.

According to the NDLEA, it has also successfully dismantled and arrested members of a criminal organization that specialises in trafficking heroin across Nigeria, South Africa, Mozambique, Europe and America.

The Agency’s Chairman, Brigadier General Buba Marwa (Rtd.)who spoke on the development in Laagos on Tuesday explained how the criminal gang was busted in a 12-day operation.

The operation

Marwa gave the details of the operation that led to the arrest of the suspects and seizure of the drugs saying it all began on February 10, 2024 when NDLEA operatives at the airport intercepted a suspicious package at the SAHCO Import Shed of the airport’s Cargo Terminal.

According to Marwa,”The consignment was concealed in 15 cartons of 2300-watt metal cutting machines. Each carton was stocked with three blocks of high-grade heroin. In total, we recovered 45 blocks of the illicit substance with a total weight of 49.70kg.”

Further investigations

According to the NDLEA Chief Executive Officer, the agency embarked on further investigation which led to more discoveries.
He said: “After the discovery, we were methodical and meticulous in our investigations. We started with the arrest of the freight agent whose name is Olowolagba Wasiu Babatunde. It turned out that he was hired for clearing services by Mattpee Logistics, a company operated by one Mr. Kola resident in South Africa.

“Next, we conducted a follow up operation at the company’s warehouse in the Shogunle area of Oshodi, Lagos, and arrested the warehouse manager, whose name is Ajayi Imole Moses. Thereafter, we set up an ambush for the expected receiver of the consignment who was duly arrested when he showed up for collection. This receiver, whose name is Adinnu Felix Chinedu, confessed during interrogation, that he is the main distributor for a drug syndicate whose membership is spread across Nigeria.

Marwa said the suspected receiver explained his roles in the trafficking and distribution of the illicit substance.
“He admitted that he usually conveyed the consignment to a dedicated warehouse located in Ayobo. That place served as a workshop where he would dismantle the consignment and remove the drugs from the machines. Thereafter, he would wait for a list of various recipients to be forwarded to him from South Africa by the head of the criminal group.

“Our operatives did due diligence by conducting a thorough search of the warehouse which led to the recovery of 56 similar cartons of the cutting machines that were used previously as modes of concealment to ferry heroin into Nigeria. At this point, it was clear that we are dealing with a syndicate that operates in other countries. By the time, we were done exploring various leads we had, we unravelled an organised criminal network that operates in South Africa, Mozambique, Nigeria and parts of Europe and America.

“This syndicate has a wide network in Nigeria because the consignments we seized were marked with several codenames, showing that they belonged to different members of this organised criminal group. Furthermore, in our follow-up operation, we uncovered from the suspect a long list of receivers of illicit drugs. In the end, we were able to identify the kingpin of the syndicate here in Nigeria and his name is Reginald Peter Chidiebere. Our investigations showed that he owns the Golden Platinum Hotel and Suite, located at 16 Reginald Peter Chidiebere Street, Hope Estate, Ago Palace.”

More arrests and seizure of property

Marwa further explained that days of surveillance on the hotel resulted in a raid on Monday, February 19, which led to the arrest of another suspect, Igboanugo Chukwuebuka Thankgod who was allegedly found in possession of two parcels of 2.2kg heroin with codes similar to the ones found on the seized drug shipment and which brought the total shipment to 51.90 kilograms.

The suspect, according to Marwa, readily confessed to being invited by Chidiebere to the hotel a day before the raid.

“He was lodged in one of the rooms and was later summoned by the receptionist to meet a guest, from whom Reginald Peter Chidiebere had informed him over the phone to receive a package. This sequence of action was confirmed by a review of the CCTV at the hotel”, Marwa said.

He said pre-emptive actions taken so far against members of the syndicate include freezing of a total of 107 bank accounts associated with 14 members of the cartel. A total of N119, 582, 928.31 found in some of the accounts has also been sized. He said a hotel and another mansion linked to the head of the syndicate in Nigeria, Reginald Peter Chidiebere and another building linked to the head of the syndicate in Mozambique, Festus Ibewuike located in Ago Palace area in Okota have equally been marked for forfeiture to the Federal Government.

More revelations

Marwa also explained that a female member of the syndicate and wife of Festus Ibewuike, Confidence Ndidiamaka  Ibewuike who is among those listed as recipients of the consignment from Chinedu was also arrested last Thursday at Ago Palace area.

He said: “When they were brought face to face, he (Adinnu Felix Chinedu) immediately identified her as one of the members of the criminal syndicate who had received similar packages of heroin with the syndicate’s logo from him on two different occasions. Though she denied knowing Adinnu or receiving anything from him before, investigation later revealed how her husband identified as Festus Ibewuike who is a top kingpin and currently residing in Mozambique used to send drug consignments to her through Adinnu Felix Chinedu.

“With pictorial evidence of different parcels with different codes and using other methodologies, we were able to confirm several instructions from her husband to her regarding illicit drug shipments already collected before. A search was promptly conducted in their residence located at the Ago Palace area, Festac Town where a Toyota Venza car was recovered as well as several documents including, bank and property documents belonging to Festus Ibewuike.”

Going after other suspects

The NDLEA chief said as part of efforts to ensure that others members of the cartel are brought to book, the agency has shared comprehensive intelligence with the South African authorities for necessary action against members of the group living in South Africa.

He linked the latest drug seizure to a similar operation by the agency which led to the seizure of 2, 139.5kg cocaine on September 18, 2022 at a warehouse in Ikorodu area of Lagos. The 2022 cocaine seizure remains the biggest in the history of the agency. “This present bust is the largest single heroin seizure at the MMIA so far”, Marwa said.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *