Lagos - The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), has arrested a Colombian drug baron and seven Nigerians who specialise in the production of Methamphetamine.
Methamphetamine is white, odourless, bitter crystalline powder.
The drug is a central nervous system stimulant available only on prescription but often abused by snorting.
The NDLEA Chairman, Alhaji Ahmadu Giade, who made the disclosure on Thursday in Lagos at a news conference, expressed concern over the health and security implications of illegal production of the drug in Nigeria.
"Our investigation had shown that the Colombian expert on the production of methamphetamine, Mr Gonzelo Osorio a.k.a Fabian Arcila and Baez Benitez Milan was invited to establish three clandestine laboratories on a 38,000 dollars weekly contract.
"This is sad and worrisome. It is a clarion call on stakeholders to pay priority attention on this dangerous twist in our nation’s drug trade," he said.
Giade said that narcotic investigators also arrested seven Nigerian members of the criminal gang who were now helping officials of the NDLEA in their investigation.
"The suspects are Gonzelo Osorio, Gabriel Obi, Anthony Ebi, Olisa Onyebuchukwu, Mickey Ezeokoli, Solomon Ogbonna and Chidi Efeagwazi.
"Twelve vehicles belonging to suspected members of the cartel have been confiscated.
"In addition, four houses have also been traced to the criminal group by the agency," he said.
Giade said the undercover operation that led to the arrest of members of the gang commenced on Nov. 2011, when Osorio was contracted by a Nigerian drug syndicate to establish three methamphetamine production laboratories in different parts of the country.
He described the operation as 'one of the best' in terms of duration, expertise and professionalism handled by the agency.
"The first clandestine laboratory Osario established was situated at Majek area of Ibeju Lekki Local Government Area of Lagos State, while another one was located at Nanka Village, near Awka in Anambra.
"The criminal gang was in the process of establishing the third laboratory when NDLEA officers apprehended them," he said.
The NDLEA boss said that Osorio left Nigeria in December, 2011 and returned on May 30, 2012 with a false identity as a citizen of Paraguay with the name Baez Benitez Milan on his travel documents.
"Osario is regarded as an expert in the production of methamphetamine in his country and was hired on a contract of 38,000 dollars weekly by the drug cartel," he said.
Giade said that while the operation was on going, a Nigerian suspect was apprehended in Lagos for using his residence for the production of methamphetamine.
He said that suspects involved in the criminal act were either ignorant of the lethal health hazard of their actions or blinded by selfish interest
"The use of Methamphetamine endangers public health.
"More worrisome is the security implication, due to the huge profit involved," Giade said.