By Bukar Bolori
Operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) have arrested members of a syndicate involved in the illicit importation and trafficking of lethal synthetic opioid, Fentanyl, Fentanyl is a drug which is 100 times stronger than tramadol and capable of causing mass casualty among the youth population being targeted by the cartels.
In a press statement on Tuesday, the spokesman of the anti-narcotics agency, Femi Babafemi said the arrest of two members of the syndicate: Odoh Oguejiofor and Oliver Uzoma at Ogbogwu market, Onitsha Head Bridge, Onitsha South local government area of Anambra State, in well-coordinated and clinical operations, is coming on the heels of an alert issued by the NDLEA on 22nd November 2022 that some criminal elements were plotting to flood the Nigerian market with the drug, which is currently responsible for over 70% overdose deaths as well as a major contributor to fatal and nonfatal overdoses in the United States.
Babafemi recalled that the CDC in the US, had described Fentanyl as 80 times as potent as morphine and 100 times more potent than heroin.
The NDLEA Spokesman said following credible intelligence and synergy with local and international partners, the anti-narcotics agency was able to mobilise necessary assets to trace the illicitly manufactured drug to the Ogbogwu market, Onitsha Head Bridge, reputed to be the largest drug market in West Africa, after months of undercover monitoring.
He said convinced that the agency has gathered sufficient evidence to nail the suspects, Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (Retd) ordered a deployment of operatives to pick members of the syndicate one after the other. Odoh Oguejiofor was the first to be arrested while on a business mission with packets of 100 micrograms of Fentanyl, while the arrest of Uzoma who is a major dealer in other illicitly manufactured pharmaceutical opioids including Fentanyl, followed.
He disclosed that packs of liquid Fentanyl were recovered from Odoh, different quantities of banned and controlled drugs including Fentanyl were seized from Uzoma.
They include: ampules of Fentanyl Injection; Ozempic solution for injection in pre-filled pens; ampules of Sustanon 250mg/ml; ampules of Rivavirin injection 200mg/2ml; ampules of Erythropoietin injection; ampules of Recombinant Anti Rho-D Immunoglobulin injection 300MG; ampules of Pethidine 100mg/2ml solution for injection and Zoladex 3.6mg Goserelin.
Reacting to the arrest of members of the syndicate, Marwa commended all officers and men of the agency involved in the operation while directing them to intensify the crackdown on other members of the cartel who may have gone underground.
Marwa said: “We’ll no doubt hunt down every member of this criminal gang before they do further harm to our public health especially our youth population. In the meantime, I’ll like to thank our international partners for the huge confidence in us and their support and partnership for the benefit of humanity. In the same vein, I’ll urge parents and other stakeholders to be vigilant, alert and warn their young ones against attempting experimenting with this illicit substance.”
“The agency wishes to reiterate that exposure to this lethal opioid, which could come in different forms, as has been shown by the seizure, may result in pinpoint pupils, falling asleep or losing consciousness, slow and shallow breathing, choking or gurgling sounds, limp body, and pale, blue, or cold skin,” Marwa explained.