The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency NDLEA on Tuesday announced the destruction of two major clandestine laboratories in Lagos and Anambra States, where the dangerous illicit drug, meth, crystal methamphetamine, popularly known as Mkpuru Mmiri in local parlance, was produced for local distribution and export.
NDLEA said that following the outbreak of crystal methamphetamine abuse in the last quarter of 2021, predominantly in the South East and the demand for help from many communities in the region, it deployed all available assets to find the primary source of manufacturing of the drug in Nigeria and arrest the barons behind it.
The demand for assistance became necessary because of the devastating effects of the dangerous stimulant drug distribution and abuse on youths and others.
The Chairman of NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Mohammed Buba Marwa (retd.) announced the breakthrough during a press conference in Abuja.
According to him, efforts in the past seven months against the cartel behind the Methamphetamine scourge have 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 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 258.74 kilograms 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.”
Marwa said he was addressing the public about the weekend busts to raise people’s awareness of the danger that meth production constitutes to public health and the modus operandi of the barons involved in the harmful activity.
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 channeled into the septic tank and soakaway in the compound, with a high risk of contamination of the water table of the entire neighbourhood.”
The NDLEA boss also commended the professionalism of the intelligence-led special units assigned the task.
“Our forensic experts and the 200-man strike force team that we deployed who were the operational arm that executed the mission of dismantling the labs, seizing the crystal meth, precursors, paraphernalia and arresting the culprits”, Marwa stated.