The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) says it has destroyed and set ablaze over 317,417 kgs (317.4 metric tons) of cannabis sativa in the Opuje forests of Edo State.
The Director, Media and Advocacy, NDLEA, Femi Babafemi, disclosed this on Saturday in a statement made available to journalists in Abuja.
Mr Babafemi said that this happened barely hours after the Chairman, NDLEA, retired Brig.-Gen. Buba Marwa, vowed to make life tough for drug barons and cartels in the new year if they failed to back out of the illicit trade.
He said that operatives of the agency have dealt a lethal blow to a cluster of cannabis syndicates operating in the said forest during the two-day operation.
“At least, a police impersonator, Omoruan Theophilus, 37, who parades as a Police Inspector to convey the drugs from the forests to the cities, was arrested.
“And three others: Aigberuan Jacob, 42; Ekeinde Anthony Zaza, 53, and Naomi Patience Ohiewere, 42, were also arrested in connection with the drugs,” he said.
Mr Babafemi said that the Opuje community in Owan West Local Government Area of Edo is notorious for cannabis cultivation, where the cartels invest huge resources.
This, he said, involved cutting down economic trees of the forest and cultivating cannabis on a large scale, running into hundreds of hectares.
“After harvest, they build warehouses inside the forest reserves and employ the services of armed youths to protect the warehouses 24/7.
“Accessing the forest on Wednesday January 18, took hours of trekking by hundreds of NDLEA operatives who were ambushed with bonfire by armed youths on their way out of the community the following day.
“They were, however, able to successfully leave the area without any casualty except the heavy investment losses inflicted on the cartels,” he said.
In the same vein, the agency on January 19, through intelligence from the Drug Enforcement Administration of the United States, busted a criminal syndicate.
Mr Babafemi said that the suspect was involved in the trafficking of fake U.S. currency in Lagos.
He said that during a combined operation carried out by NDLEA operatives with EFCC, $269,000 counterfeit currency were recovered from the syndicate.
This, he said, was at Oniru Shoprite area of Lekki, Lagos, where three suspects were arrested.
He quoted Mr Marwa as commending the officers involved in the two operations in Edo and Lagos for their professionalism and commitment.
Mr Marwa directed that the suspects arrested (with their fake dollars) in the Lekki operation be immediately transferred to the EFCC for possible prosecution.