Operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, (NDLEA), have arrested members of a syndicate involved in the illicit importation and trafficking of lethal synthetic opioid, Fentanyl.
The Director, Media and Advocacy NDLEA, Mr. Femi Babafemi said this in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja.
Babafemi said that the drug was ‘100 times’ stronger than Tramadol and capable of causing mass casualty among the youths population being targeted by the cartels.
He said that the operatives arrested two members of the syndicate: Collins Oguejiofor and Chigozie Uzoma at Ogbogwu market, Onitsha Head Bridge, Onitsha South LGA, Anambra State, in well-coordinated and clinical operations.
Babafemi also said that the arrest was coming on the heels of an alert issued by the anti-narcotics agency on Tuesday, November 22, 2022 that some criminal elements were plotting to flood the Nigerian markets with the drug.
This, he said, was currently responsible for over 70 per cent ‘overdose deaths’ as well as a major contributor to fatal and nonfatal overdoses in the United States.
“According to the CDC in the US, Fentanyl is 80 times as potent as morphine and 100 times more potent than heroin.
“Following credible intelligence and synergy with local and international partners, NDLEA was able to mobilise necessary assets to trace the illicitly manufactured drug to the Ogbogwu market, Onitsha Head Bridge..
“It was reputed to be the largest drug market in West Africa, after months of undercover monitoring, “he said.
The NDLEA spokesman quoted the Chairman, NDLEA retired Brig.-Gen. Buba Marwa as ordering a deployment of operatives to pick members of the syndicate one after the other.
This, he said, was after the agency was convinced and had gathered sufficient evidence to nail the suspects.
“Oguejiofor was the first to be arrested while on a business mission with packets of 100 micrograms of Fentanyl.
“The arrest of Uzoma who is a major dealer in other illicitly manufactured pharmaceutical opioids including Fentanyl, followed.
“While packs of liquid Fentanyl were recovered from Odoh, different quantities of banned and controlled drugs including Fentanyl were seized from Uzoma.
Illicit drugs intercepted by the NDLEA operatives from suspected drug traffickers
“They include: Ampules of Fentanyl Injection; Ozempic solution for injection in pre-filled pens; Ampules of Sustanon 250mg/ml; Ampules of Rivavirin injection 200mg/2ml;
“Ampules of Erythropoietin injection; Ampules of Recombinant Anti Rho-D Immunoglobulin injection 300MG; Ampules of Pethidine 100mg/2ml solution for injection and Zoladex 3.6mg Goserelin, ” he said.
Reacting to the arrest of members of the syndicate, Marwa commended all the officers and men of the agency involved in the operation.
He directed them to intensify the crackdown on other members of the cartel who may have gone underground.
“We’ll no doubt hunt down every member of this criminal gang before they do further harm to our public health especially our youth population.
“In the meantime, I’ll like to thank our international partners for the huge confidence in us and their support and partnership for the benefit of humanity.
“In the same vein, I’ll urge parents and other stakeholders to be vigilant, alert and warn their young ones against attempting experimenting with this illicit substance”, Marwa said.
The NDLEA boss reiterated that exposure to the lethal opioid, which could come in different forms, as has been shown by the seizure, may result in pinpoint pupils.
This, he said, included pupil falling asleep or losing consciousness, slow and shallow breathing, choking or gurgling sounds, limp body, pale, blue or cold skin.