Operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), have foiled attempts by Brazil-based drug cartels to smuggle large consignments of cocaine into Nigeria through three major international airports in Port Harcourt, Abuja and Lagos, leading to the arrest of seven traffickers.
Femi Babafemi, spokesman of NDLEA, in a statement on Sunday, explained that three of the suspects were apprehended onboard a Qatar airline flight from Doha to Port Harcourt, Rivers State, during the inward screening of the passengers.
He further explained that a total of 24.96 kilogrammes of cocaine was discovered with three suspects who departed Sao Paulo, Brazil, on board the same Qatar flight, en-route Doha to Abuja and Port Harcourt.
According to the statement, the first suspect, 51-year-old Udogwu Johnson claimed that he agreed to traffic the drug for a fee of N1m when he was arrested with 5.48kg of cocaine concealed in lotion plastic bottles sealed with candle wax.
Ezekwueme Valentine, 32, who was also apprehended was caught with 10.82kg cocaine packed in 84 sachets concealed in seven duvets, adding that the third trafficker, Chiezie Arinze, 35, was arrested with 8.66kg cocaine hidden in 115 golden and silver colour 30ml breakable bottles factory packaged with lotion on top.
The agency stated that Uchechukwu Onwugbufor, 42, the fourth suspect, was apprehended at the airport car park, waiting to receive one of the traffickers, Udogwu James, and his consignment.
The statement explained that he claimed he was contacted by someone in Brazil to receive Udogwu and lead him to Lagos for a fee of N100,000, stressing that Uchechukwu Onwugbufor was at the airport with his neighbour, Nwogu Ezimadu, who is equally being investigated to determine if he’s complicit in the crime or not.
It added that at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, a Psychology graduate of Imo State University, Owerri, Sebastine Kelvin, 30, was apprehended with 74 pellets of cocaine weighing 1.454kg on arrival aboard an Ethiopian Airline flight en route Doula- Addis Ababa-Abuja, on Wednesday, April 13.
The statement observed that the father of one claims he’s a motor spare parts dealer from Ezeagu in Ezeagu LGA, Enugu State, saying that he lived in Cameroon for six years before going into the drug business to raise money to boost his trade as he was introduced to the man who gave him the drugs at Addis Ababa by another person serving a jail term for a drug offence at the Doula Newbell Prison.
The statement explained, “In Lagos, another Brazil-based passenger, Uba Samuel, was arrested at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, by NDLEA operatives on Friday, April 15, on arrival aboard an Ethiopian Airline flight from Sao Paulo via Addis Ababa to Lagos with sachets of cocaine weighing 633grams concealed in his footwear and toothpaste tube.”
It explained that the suspect, who claimed to be a shoemaker and barber, hails from Umunneochi, Abia State, stated that while accepting ownership of the drug, he said he used his shoe-making knowledge to conceal the drug in his pair of sandals.
The statement said that Uba, a regular traveller, reportedly confessed he bought the drug to sell at a market in Abia.