The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency has arrested two members of a syndicate involved in the illicit importation and trafficking of the lethal synthetic opioid, Fentanyl, in Ogbogwu Market, Onitsha Head Bridge, Anambra State, reputed to be the largest drug market in West Africa.
The anti-narcotics agency revealed that the drug, Fentanyl, is 100 times stronger than Tramadol and is capable of causing mass casualty among the youth population being targeted by the cartels.
He further reiterated that exposure to this lethal opioid, which could come in different forms, as had 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.
The spokesperson for the NDLEA, Femi Babafemi, on Tuesday, said the suspects’ arrests came on the heels of an alert issued by the anti-narcotics agency in November 2022 that some criminal elements were plotting to flood the Nigerian market with the drug which is currently responsible for over 70 per cent of overdose deaths.
Babafemi said, “The arrest of two members of the syndicate – Odoh Oguejiofor and Chigozie Uzoma at Ogbogwu market, Onitsha Head Bridge, Onitsha South LGA, Anambra State, in well-coordinated and clinical operations, is coming on the heels of an alert issued by the anti-narcotics agency on Tuesday, November 22, 2022.
“The alert revealed that some criminal elements were plotting to flood the Nigerian market with the drug, which is currently responsible for over 70 per cent overdose deaths as well as a major contributor to fatal and nonfatal overdoses in the United States.
According to the CDC in the US, Fentanyl is 80 times as potent as morphine and 100 times more potent than heroin.
“Following credible intelligence and synergy with local and international partners, the NDLEA 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 further noted that the Chairman of the NDLEA, Maj. Gen. Buba Marwa (retd.), ordered a deployment of operatives to pick members of the syndicate one after the other, after being convinced that the agency had gathered sufficient evidence to nail the suspects.
Babafemi added, “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.
“While packs of liquid Fentanyl were recovered from Oguejiofor, 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 arrests, the Chairman of the NDLEA, 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.
“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,” Marwa said.