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Chairman/Chief Executive of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Ahmadu Giade has raised concern over the health and security implication of illegal methamphetamine production in the country. This followed the discovery of three production factories in Lagos and Anambra States as well as the arrest of a Colombian drug kingpin who specialises in the establishment of methamphetamine production laboratories.
Giade described the development as sad and worrisome. “Our investigation had shown that the Colombian methamphetamine production expert, Gonzelo Osorio aka Fabian Arcila and Baez Benitez Milan was invited to establish three clandestine laboratories on a 38,000 dollars weekly contract. This is sad and worrisome. It is a clarion call on stakeholders to pay priority attention on this dangerous twist in our nation’s drug trade”.
Narcotic investigators have arrested seven members of the criminal gang who are helping in further investigation. The suspects are Gonzelo Osorio, Gabriel Onyebuchi Obi, Anthony Ebi, Olisa Cyprian Onyebuchukwu, Mickey Ezeokoli, Solomon Ogbonna and Chidi Alexandra Efeagwazi. Twelve vehicles belonging to suspected members of the cartel have been confiscated. In addition, four houses have also been traced to the criminal group by the Agency.
The undercover operation that led to the crackdown on the criminal gang commenced in November 2011 when Gonzelo-Osorio was contracted by a Nigerian drug syndicate to establish three methamphetamine production laboratories in different parts of the country. According to Giade, the operation is one of the best coordinated in terms of duration, expertise and professionalism.
The first clandestine laboratory Gonzelo established was situated at Majek area of Ibeju Lekki Local Government Area of Lagos State while another one was located in Nanka village in Nnewi area of Anambra State in Eastern Nigeria. The criminal gang were in the process of establishing the third laboratory when they were apprehended by NDLEA officers.
“Gonzelo-Osorio left the country in December 2011 and returned on 30th of May 2012 with a false identity as a citizen of Paraguay with the name Baez Benitez Milan on his travel documents. He is regarded as the best methamphetamine production expert in the country and was hired on $38,000 dollars weekly by the drug cartel” Giade stated.
While the above operation was on-going, a suspect was apprehended in Lagos for using his residence for a solo production of methamphetamine. The reality of the threat according to the Agency is that it is both a syndicate and a one man affair.
“The concerted efforts of stakeholders are required. The suspects involved in the criminal act are either ignorant of the lethal health consequences of their action or have simply been blinded by their selfish interests. Methamphetamine production endangers public health. More worrisome is the security implication due to the huge profit involved” the NDLEA boss stated.
It will be recalled that the first clandestine laboratory was discovered in June 2011 in Lagos. The second laboratory also discovered in Lagos early this year revealed the engagement of foreigners by local drug cells as three Bolivian expatriates who were running the laboratory were arrested and are currently undergoing trial. In all 5 production factories have been located by the Agency.
Methamphetamine laboratories pose a serious health danger to the society. The risk of infection is also very high even after several years of abandonment. The chemicals and the gasses emitted during production are highly injurious. Even residents living close to a production area are also at risk.
The Agency expressed readiness to stop the unwarranted health hazard in the country. Members of the public were urged to be vigilant and report suspected cases to the Agency. Persons seeking accommodation are advised to investigate the history of the house before moving into new apartments to prevent health problems of houses used in methamphetamine production.