he National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) says it has dealt a lethal blow to a cluster of cannabis syndicates operating in the Opuje forests in Edo State where massive warehouses and tents storing over 317,417 kilograms (317.4 metric tons) of the psychoactive substance were destroyed and set ablaze in a two-day operation.
This comes barely hours after the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the anti-narcotic agency, Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (Rtd) vowed to make life tough for drug barons and cartels in the new year if they fail to back out of the illicit trade.
The NDLEA spokesperson, Femi Babafemi, in a statement said that a police impersonator, Omoruan Theophilus, 37, who parades as a Police Inspector to convey the drugs from the forests to the cities and three others: Aigberuan Jacob, 42; Ekeinde Anthony Zaza, 53, and Naomi Patience Ohiewere, 42, were arrested in connection with the drugs.
According to Babafemi, the Opuje community in Owan West Local Government Area, Edo State, is notorious for cannabis cultivation, where the cartels invest huge resources, cutting down economic trees of the forest reserves and cultivating cannabis on a large scale, running into hundreds of hectares.
He explained that after harvest, they build warehouses inside the forest reserves and employ the services of armed youths to protect the warehouses 24/7.
The statement further read: “Accessing the forest on Wednesday 18th January took hours of trekking by hundreds of NDLEA operatives who were ambushed with bonfire by armed youths on their way out of the community the following day but were able to successfully leave the area without any casualty except the heavy investment losses inflicted on the cartels.
“In the same vein, the Agency on Thursday 19th January through intelligence received from the Drug Enforcement Administration of the United States busted a criminal syndicate involved in the trafficking of fake USD currency in Lagos.
“During a combined operation carried out by NDLEA operatives with their EFCC colleagues, a total of $269,000 counterfeit US dollars were recovered from the syndicate at Oniru Shoprite area of Lekki, Lagos, where three suspects were arrested”.
While commending all the officers involved in the two special operations in Edo and Lagos for their professionalism and commitment, Marwa directed that the fake dollars recovered and suspects arrested in the Lekki operation be immediately transferred to the EFCC for possible prosecution.