By Bukar Bolori
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has dealt a lethal blow on a cluster of cannabis syndicates operating in the Opuje forests of Edo state where massive warehouses and tents storing over 317,417 kilogrammes (317.4 metric tons) of the psychoactive substance were destroyed and set ablaze in a two-day operation.
The clampdown came few hours after the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the agency, Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (Retd) vowed to make life tough for drug barons and cartels in Year 2023 if they fail to back out of the illicit drug trade.
A statement on Saturday by the spokesman of the agency, Femi Babafemi said a police impersonator, Omoruan Theophilus, 37, who parades as a Police Inspector to convey the drugs from the forests to the cities and three others: Aigberuan Jacob, 42; Ekeinde Zaza, 53, and Naomi Ohiewere, 42, were arrested in connection with the drugs.
Babafemi, while noting that the Opuje community in Owan West Local Government Area, Edo State, is notorious for cannabis cultivation, with cartels investing huge resources, cutting down economic trees of the forest reserves and cultivating cannabis on a large scale, running into hundreds of hectares, and after harvest built warehouses inside the forest reserves, employing the services of armed youths to protect the warehouses round the clock.
Babafemi said accessing the forest last Wednesday took hours of trekking by hundreds of NDLEA operatives. He said they were ambushed with bonfire by armed youths on their way out of the community the following day but were able to successfully leave the area without any casualty except the heavy investment losses inflicted on the cartels.
The spokesman also said the agency last Thursday through intelligence received from the Drug Enforcement Administration of the United States busted a criminal syndicate involved in the trafficking of fake USD currency in Lagos.
He noted that during a combined operation carried out by NDLEA operatives with their EFCC colleagues, a total of $269,000 counterfeit US dollars were recovered from the syndicate at Oniru Shoprite area of Lekki, Lagos, where three suspects were arrested.
Meanwhile, Marwa while commending all the officers involved in the two special operations in Edo and Lagos States for their professionalism and commitment, had directed that the fake dollars recovered and suspects arrested in the Lekki operation be immediately transferred to the EFCC for possible prosecution.