National Drug Law Enforcement Agency has discovered a methamphetamine laboratory run by Mexicans and dislodged a major drug trafficking organisation in the country. Officials of the Special Enforcement Team NDLEA discovered the illicit methamphetamine production laboratory in Asaba, Delta State.
According to the Head, Public Affairs, NDLEA, Mr. Mitchell Ofoyeju, the “super” methamphetamine laboratory, which is similar to the ones found in Mexico, is the first to be discovered in Nigeria.
Ofoyeju quoted the the Chairman/Chief Executive, NDLEA, Col. Muhammad Mustapha Abdallah, as saying the laboratory has a capacity of producing between 3,000kg to 4,000kg of methamphetamine per production cycle.
He said, “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 include four Nigerians suspected to be joint owners of the laboratory and four Mexicans who are methamphetamine production experts allegedly hired as technical partners into the country.
The suspects are Chibi Aruh, William Ejike Agusi, Umolu Kosisochukwu and Umolu Ckukwemeka.
Others are Cervantos Madrid Jose Bruno, Rivas Ruiz Pastiano, Castillo Barraza Cristobal and Partida Gonzalez Pedro.
Abdallah described the operation as a technical undercover assignment leading to the dismantling of a drug trafficking organisation.
He said, “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 investigations showed that a successful test production was done at the laboratory in February 2016.”
The laboratory was raided while the second production cycle was ongoing, according to the NDLEA.
Items recovered at the laboratory included 1.5kg of finished methamphetamine and 750 liters of liquid methamphetamine.
Other items found in the laboratory included industrial pressure pots, gas cylinders, gas burners, facial masks and numerous chemicals.
Also recovered in the operation were a Toyota Tundra, a Mercedes Benz Jeep ML and a Toyota Corolla car.
The anti-narcotics agency warned that unless drastic measures were taken against the trend, the rise of “super” laboratories would put Nigeria on the global spotlight in methamphetamine production.
“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.”
According to him, methamphetamine laboratories pose a serious threat to humanity because of the toxic nature of chemicals used.
He further said methamphetamine dump pollutes the environment because for every one pound of methamphetamine produced, about three to six pounds of toxic waste is created.
He noted that this could 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,” Abdallah stated.