THE National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) says it has raided and dismantled two major clandestine laboratories in Lagos and Anambra where dangerous illicit substances, crystal methamphetamine, called Mkpurummiri in local parlance, were produced for distribution across the country.
Chairman of the NDLEA Mohammed Marwa disclosed this while addressing journalists on Tuesday.
Marwa said following the outbreak of crystal methamphetamine abuse in the last quarter of 2021, predominantly in the South-East and the cry for help from many communities in the region, the Agency deployed all available assets to find the primary source of manufacturing of the drug in Nigeria and arrest the barons behind the illicit operations.
He said while efforts in the past seven months against the cartel behind the Methamphetamine scourge have led to the arrest of four kingpins and a cook, the NDLEA has apprehended two more barons and another cook.
The NDLEA boss said, “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 (VGC) 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.”
Marwa added that the owners of the two illicit meth laboratories were successfully arrested alongside Sunday Ukah from Aba, Abia State, the cook 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,” he added.
Marwa said he’s 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 unwholesome activity.
“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 channelled into the septic tank and soak-away in the compound, with a high risk of contamination of the water table of the entire neighbourhood.
“On average, the lab produced 50 kilos of methamphetamine every week with plans underway to increase the capacity of production to at least 100kg per week.
“Where do these drugs end? From our preliminary interrogation, we now know the drugs from this lab were both for export and local consumption. We also know there is a supply chain of distributors and buyers for export and the domestic market.
“When you consider the fact that the price of this dangerous drug was going for as high as US500, 000 per kilo in the international market in recent time, you will understand why Nzewi cared less to put the lives of his own family at risk by producing this in the same house where they live. Hence, taking these two labs out of operation is a major feat in our continuing effort to curb the meth problem,” Marwa stated.
The NDLEA boss said the lab busts also exposed the interconnectivity among syndicates involved in meth production, adding that both producers hired the cook to produce for the VGC lab and the lab in Anambra.