The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), on Tuesday, said a nine-year manhunt came to an end following the arrest of a suspected cartel leader, who allegedly conducted illicit drug supplies in the South-East and South-South parts of the country.
According to a statement by the agency’s Director, Media and Advocacy, Femi Babafemi, the suspect is one of two brothers who were involved in the criminal activity.
The elder brother, who is also wanted, was said to have narrowly escaped during the overnight operation carried out simultaneously in their two locations Umuahia and Ntigha Okpuola community in Isiala Ngwa North LGA, Abia State.
“Investigations show the two notorious brothers began a career in the illicit drug business since the late 90s when they started as pocket dealers before they later established smoking joints/bunks in their community, Ntigha Okpuola and subsequently grew to become barons; owning hotels, houses in choice areas of Abia, Rivers and Imo State, with exotic cars in their homes,” the statement read in part.
The NDLEA noted that the manhunt began in 2013 when the suspects allegedly organised a mob attack on some of the agency’s operatives who were attempting to apprehend them during a raid.
“At least one of the officers attacked then is still bedridden till date. The two drug lords equally own armed militia guarding their houses and drug stores, where they deal in assorted illicit substances like cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine (Mpuru-miri), Loud/Arizona and all sorts,” the agency said.
A fresh bid to bring the duo to book and end their criminal trade was launched four months ago, the NDLEA explained, leading to a simultaneous raid operation on their locations on Saturday, November 26, 2022.
It noted that the younger brother, who lives in Umuahia, Abia State, was successfully arrested, while his elder sibling “narrowly escaped” when his Ntigha Okpuola community home was stormed by operatives backed by men of the Nigerian Army.
In the course of the operation, one of their militiamen was also arrested.
“During the raid, quantities of cocaine and variants of cannabis were recovered from the two houses while the agency has so far sealed two hotels, one eatery, two mansions linked to them and recovered three exotic vehicles from their homes as efforts are ongoing to trace more of their bank accounts and properties.
“The identified hotels include: Jahlove Hotel, Mbawsi, Isiala Ngwa North LGA; Noicyhl Luxury Hotel, Aba-Port-Harcourt Expressway, Aba; and Royal Cruise Fast Food, Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway, Isiala Ngwa North LGA, all in Abia State.
“Reacting to the development, Chairman/Chief Executive of NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (Retd), CON, OFR, commended the officers and men of the Agency involved in the operation as well as men of the military who supported them for their professionalism,” it said.
The NDLEA boss added that it was in the interest of the “fleeing baron” to turn himself in before the agency smoked him out because, according to him, there will be no hiding place.