NDLEA busts trans-border cartel, arrests five kingpins


OPERATIVES of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) have dismantled a trans-border drug cartel and arrested five leaders of the syndicate.

NDLEA, in a statement signed by Femi Babafemi on Sunday, January 29, said the members of the syndicate, which operate in different parts of the world, were arrested in a special operation that lasted for weeks.

He added that different quantities of drugs and air compressors used to conceal and distribute them globally were recovered during the operation.

“The special operation came on the heels of a warning by the Chairman/Chief Executive of the Agency, Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (Retd) said that drug barons and cartels would have it rough in 2023 if they fail to back out of the criminal business.

“Leaders of the cartel, which spreads across Dubai, UAE; Cotonou, Benin Republic; Togo; Oman, Thailand and Europe, as well as Lagos, Imo and Onitsha in Anambra state, had while on Christmas and New Year holidays in their villages were still coordinating efforts to send their illicit consignments to Dubai and other parts of the world.

“Their lid was blown open on Thursday, 29th December 2022, when their freight agent, Onyeisue Collins Chukwudi, was arrested by NDLEA officers at the SAHCO export shed of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, MMIA, Ikeja Lagos, for attempting to export three big automobile air compressors to Dubai,” Babafemi said in the statement.

Arrested Freight agent, Onyeisue Collins Chukwudi
Arrested Freight agent, Onyeisue Collins Chukwudi

The statement added that a quick follow-up operation led to the recovery of additional five compressors at Chukwud’s home at 24 Legacy road, Ayobo area of Lagos.

According to the Agency, 27.50kgs of skunk were taken out of the air compressors after welding equipment was used to cut them open.

Further investigations by the NDLEA revealed that the freight agent was working for a bigger organized criminal group.

“As a result, extensive operational tools were deployed to track the first kingpin, Onuoha Peter Obioma, who lives in the Benin Republic and Togo but comes occasionally to do business in Lagos.

“The efforts paid off on Saturday, 7th January 2023, when Obioma walked into the waiting arms of NDLEA operatives with a bag containing additional air compressors used to conceal 15.7kgs skunk and a crystalline substance that later tested positive to methamphetamine after the Agency’s sniffer dogs identified compressors with drug concealment.”

According to the NDLEA, Obioma’s statement led to the unravelling of two other leaders of the cartel: Dubai-based Ugo Kelechi Alex (aka KC) and Iwueke Ugochukwu (aka Odugwu), an Onitsha, Anambra based businessman.

The anti-narcotic Agency said in a well-coordinated operation carried out on Tuesday 10th, January at the ancestral homes of the Kingpins in Imo State, the arrowhead of the cartel identified as Ezenwekwe Obinna Nicodemus, an automobile parts dealer at Alaba International market, Lagos was put under surveillance.

“A Lexus SUV and a Toyota jeep were recovered from Kelechi and Iwueke.

“After so many dramatic bids to evade arrest, NDLEA operatives eventually pinned Obinna down at a bar in Mazamaza, Mile 2 area of Lagos on Saturday 14th January.

The Agency added that a search of his home led to the recovery of 607 grams of ephedrine, a handful of Cannabis weighing 20 grams, and other paraphernalia, including 271 grams of dimethyl sulfone used as a cutting agent for ephedrine.

Also recovered were a chemical precursor, an active ingredient for the production of methamphetamine, a weighing scale and an International passport.

Meanwhile, the NDLEA said no fewer than 2,601.5 kilograms of Cannabis and 102,500 pills of pharmaceutical opioids were seized during interdiction operations across Plateau, Edo, Delta, Taraba, Kogi, Kano, Lagos, and Adamawa states in the past week.


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