Operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), have arrested two members of a syndicate that specialises in the illicit importation and trafficking of lethal synthetic opioid, Fentanyl.
The anti-narcotics Agency’s Director of Media and Advocacy, Mr. Femi Babafemi, disclosed this in a statement on Tuesday.
TheFact Daily learns that the members of the syndicate, identified as Odoh Collins Oguejiofor and Oliver Chigozie Uzoma, were arrested at Ogbogwu market, Onitsha Head Bridge, in Onitsha South local government area of Anambra State, in well coordinated and clinical operations.
According to Babafemi, the Agency had issued an alert in November last year, of a plot by some criminal elements to flood the Nigerian market with the illicit substance.
After months of undercover monitoring, and the use of credible intelligence as well as synergy with local and international partners, the NDLEA was able to mobilize necessary assets to trace the illicitly manufactured drug to the Ogbogwu market, in Onitsha, reputed to be the largest drug market in West Africa.
Convinced that the Agency had gathered sufficient evidence to nail the suspects, the Agency’s boss, Brig. Gen. Mohammed Buba Marwa (Retd), ordered a deployment of operatives to pick up members of the syndicate one after the other.
Oguejiofor, the first to be picked up, was arrested while on a business mission with packets of 100 micrograms of Fentanyl, while Uzoma, a major dealer in other illicitly manufactured pharmaceutical opioids, including Fentanyl, was arrested shortly after.
Oguejiofor was arrested with packets of liquid Fentanyl, while from Uzoma were recovered different quantities of banned and controlled drungs, including Ampules of: Fentanyl injection, Ozempic Solution for injection in pre-filled pens; Sustanon 250mg/ml; Rivavirin injection 200mg/2ml; Immunoglobulin injection 300mg; Pethidine 100mg/2ml Solution for injection and Zoladex 3.6mg Goserelin.
Marwa, while commending the Agency’s operatives involved in the operation, vowed to intensify the crackdown on other members of the criminal cartel who may have gone underground.
“We will no doubt, hunt down every member of this criminal gang before they do further harm to our public health, especially our youth population”, he said.
In the same vein, he urged parents and stakeholders to be vigilant and alert, and warn their young children and/or wards against attempting to experiment with this illicit substance.
Fentanyl has been identified as being responsible for over 70% overdose deaths, and is a major contributor to fatal and non-fatal overdoses in the United States. According to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Fentanyl is 80 times as potent as morphine, and 100 times more potent than heroin.
Exposure to this lethal opioid, which could come in different forms as 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.