Crime

War on Narcotics: NDLEA Nabs Wanted Drug Baron, Associate in Imo

Operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) have apprehended a drug baron on its wanted list identified as Joachin Chikaodi Mbonu.

NDLEA disclosed that Mbonu, 42, leader of the major drug cartel behind the production and distribution of deadly psychoactive substance, methamphetamine, popularly called ‘mkpuru mmiri’ was arrested alongside his associate, Kenneth Chibuike Ofoegbu in his mansion tucked in his Umuomi village, Uzogba-Ezenomi autonomous community, Ikeduru Local Government Area of Imo State.

The substances recovered include 419.99 grams of methamphetamine; 750 grams of iodine, a precursor chemical for meth; a pump action gun with four cartridges amongst others.

This was made known in a statement issued by the Director, Media & Advocacy of the Agency, Mr. Femi Babafemi on Tuesday.

According to the statement, the cartel with operational bases in Imo and Rivers States became a target of the Agency following intelligence indicating that it is responsible for the distribution of substantial quantity of methamphetamine in South East, South South and other parts of the country.

“After weeks of surveillance, officers of a special operations unit of the Agency on Friday 5th July 2024, tracked and traced the drug lord to his village mansion in Imo state where he was caught with a member of his cartel, Kenneth Chibuike Ofoegbu, 34, with different quantities of methamphetamine, its precursor chemicals, a pump action gun and cartridges recovered.

“Exhibits recovered from the house include: 419.99 grams of methamphetamine; 750 grams of iodine, a precursor chemical for meth; 500 grams of sodium bicarbonate, a precursor chemical for meth; two electronic weighing scales and a pump action gun with four cartridges.

“The operatives moved swiftly to another of Mbonu’s hideout located at 11 Redemption Avenue, Port Harcourt, Rivers state where they recovered additional exhibits: 750 grams of processed sodium bicarbonate; 170 grams of plain sodium bicarbonate and 75 grams of meth.

“Another raid in the home of one of Mbonu’s associates, Odoemenam Pedro Chinedu, currently at large, at Njaba LGA, Imo state, led to the recovery of another pump action gun with 25 cartridges, among other items. While the kingpin cools his heels in custody, two of his mansions in Imo state have been marked for possible forfeiture to the federal government,” NDLEA stated.

The anti-narcotic agency revealed that Mbonu had escaped from South Africa where he lived for years and mastered the art of cooking methamphetamine after he came under investigation for drug dealings.

“Upon his return to Nigeria, he continued the criminal trade by setting up clandestine laboratories in remote villages to shield his nefarious activities,” it added.

Commenting on the arrest, the Chairman/Chief Executive of NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa commended the officers and men involved in the multi-pronged operation.

Gen. Marwa warned that the manner the interdiction was carried out should send a strong signal to other cartels that there is no hiding place for them in any part of the country.

Hope Ejairu

Hope Ejairu is a writer, sports analyst and journalist, with publications on print and digital media. He holds certifications in various media/journalism trainings, including AFP.

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