…Arrests 4 Mexicans, 4 Nigerians
…Says It Will Cost About N35m To Clean Laboratory
Officials of the Special Enforcement Team (SET) of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), have discovered a super methamphetamine laboratory located in Asaba Delta State and dislodged a major drug trafficking organisations in the country.
This super methamphetamine laboratory is similar to the ones found in Mexico and it is the first to be discovered in the country.
NDLEA Chief Executive, Col. Muhammad Mustapha Abdallah, disclosed this to journalists at a media briefing on the discovery of the Super Clandestine Methamphetamine Laboratory at the agency’s headquarters in Lagos.
He stated that the laboratory has the capacity to produce between 3,000kg to 4,000kg of methamphetamine per production cycle.
According to him, “A significant feature of this laboratory is that the production process is more technical and sophisticated because it uses the synthesis method of methamphetamine production. All the principal actors linked to this illicit act were apprehended in a simultaneous raid on members of the drug syndicate in Lagos, Obosi in Anambra state and at the laboratory in Asaba, Delta state”.
Those arrested according to the NDLEA boss are four Nigerians believed to be joint owners of the laboratory and four Mexicans, who are methamphetamine production experts hired as technical partners into the country.
He listed the names of the suspects arrested by the anti narcotic agency to include: Chief Chibi Aruh, William Ejike Agusi, Umolu Kosisochukwu and Umolu Ckukwemeka.
Other suspects who are Mexicans are Cervantos Madrid Jose Bruno, Rivas Ruiz Pastiano, Castillo Barraza Cristobal and Partida Gonzalez Pedro.
Abdallah described the operation as technical undercover assignment leading to the dismantling of a drug trafficking organization.
“In a technical undercover operation, four Mexicans were arrested in active production exercise inside the super laboratory. The cartel first brought two Mexican methamphetamine experts, Cervantos Madrid Jose Bruno and Rivas Ruiz Pastiano to Nigeria but because of the size of the laboratory coupled with the volume of work, two additional Mexicans, Castillo Barraza Cristobal and Partida Gonzalez Pedro were added. Our investigation revealed that a successful test production was done at the laboratory in February 2016”. He said.
He hinted that the laboratory was raided while the second production cycle was ongoing, adding that items recovered at the laboratory include 1.5kg of finished methamphetamine and 750 litres of liquid methamphetamine.
Other items found in the laboratory are : industrial pressure pots, gas cylinders, gas burners, facial masks and numerous chemicals.
Also recovered in this operation are Toyota Tundra, Mercedes Benz Jeep ML and a Toyota Corolla car.
Abdallah warned that unless drastic measures were taken against this ugly trend, the rise of super laboratories will put Nigeria on the global spotlight in methamphetamine production.
In his words, “This is because the laboratory operates at an industrial scale with a high yield of 3,000kg to 4,000kgs of methamphetamine per production cycle. Nigeria methamphetamine is now competing with others in Asia and South Africa markets. The super laboratory does not need ephedrine because it uses the synthesis method. Drug cartels are now shifting from simple method of methamphetamine production to a more complex process. The discovery calls for celebration because the operation demonstrates the capacity and preparedness of the agency to track down drug cartels irrespective of their covert mode of operation”.
The NDLEA Chief Executive Officer stated that the threat posed by this laboratory is disturbing because mass production will make the drug easily available thereby increasing the rate of abuse.
He added that more citizens would equally be targeted by drug cartels that are searching for drug mules to smuggle drugs outside the country and that this has the tendency to increase the number of Nigerians in foreign prisons thereby affecting the image of our country.
According to him, “Methamphetamine laboratories pose a serious threat to humanity because of the toxic nature of chemicals used. Methamphetamine dump pollutes the environment. This is because for every one pound of methamphetamine produced, about three to six pounds of toxic waste is created. This can contaminate the water table within 500 meters radius from the laboratory. Even plants close to the dump were found to be dead. The laboratory contains highly poisonous solvents and gases. Some are pyrophoric in nature capable of explosion; other chemicals are carcinogenic, capable of causing cancer while some are highly combustible and corrosive”.
The NDLEA boss stated that adequate funds are required to detect laboratories, provide protective kits and also to decontaminate the production site, adding that major body organs can be damaged through exposure to poisonous gases and chemicals.
He put the estimated cost of cleaning this laboratory at about N35 million and that money is also needed to carry out public enlightenment, as this would create awareness and provide information to help people make informed decisions.
Protective measures, he said must be taken to safeguard the lives of officers and that of innocent Nigerians.
He advised members of the public to be vigilant and report suspicious factories to the NDLEA, adding that a methamphetamine laboratory can be identified by their secret operations and can also be detected by irritation caused by chemicals, smell of chemicals and coloured water on sewage.
Abdallah also advised that houses used for methamphetamine production should be avoided while chemical containers must not be used for domestic purposes and that instead containers made for domestic purposes should be purchased and used.
On the whether the NDLEA has looked at the environmental implications of methamphetamine production in the area and how the agency will tackle it, Abdallah said that agency would invite and collaborate with the ministry of environment and health on the matter to protect and enhance public health and safety.