By Deborah Coker
Benin – The Edo Command of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) says it has smashed a cartel that specialises in inter-state cannabis smuggling.
Mr Ofoyeju Mitchell, Principal Staff Officer, Public Affairs, NDLEA, said this in a statement issued in Benin on Wednesday .
Mitchell also said that a truck belonging to the cartel conveying cannabis neatly concealed in a consignment of processed wood from sawmill was intercepted.
He said the truck was intercepted on Wednesday along Benin Bye-pass.
He said that the state Commander of the agency, Mr Buba Wakawa, disclosed that 332 bags of dried substance suspected to be dried cannabis weighing 5,146 kilogrammes were found in the truck.
Mitchell also said that the estimated street value of the substance was N51.4 million.
He also said that three members of the gang comprising the driver, Ossai Frank, 35, and two others, Azuka Ossai, 29, and Emenike Uba, 25, all from Delta, were apprehended.
He said the suspects had confessed to the crime, adding that the quest for survival made them go into the criminal act.
The official also disclosed that interim investigation revealed that the truck originated from Owo in Ondo State going to Abi in Delta.
He further said that one of the suspects, Ossai Frank, who is married with two wives and four children, said that was not his first time of conveying cannabis.
“I used to carry rice and biscuits but whenever there is cannabis, I also carry so as to get some money to take care of my family.
“I was pushed into cannabis business due to financial hardship. This is not my first time,” Ossai said.
Mitchell said the crackdown was based on intelligence report and diligent surveillance by NDLEA officers in the command.
“This is a very successful operation and it was based on intelligence report and diligent surveillance.
“We have been monitoring them for some time and I am glad that our sacrifices have been handsomely rewarded.
“The command is prepared to counter the illegal activities of drug barons,”he said.
The official also said that efforts were ongoing to arrest and prosecute other members of the cartel in accordance with the NDLEA Act.
He said the three suspects would soon be charged to court. (NAN)