The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), on Wednesday announced the seizure of large quantity of Captagon, a brand of Amphetamine drug, valued at N5.8 billion at Apapa Port, Lagos.
Chairman of NDLEA, Brig.-Gen. Buba Marwa, who disclosed this to newsmen in Lagos, said that the seizure of Captagon, with one suspect in the net, was the first in Sub-Sahara Africa.
He said the agency in March 2021, had intel from its international partners, on the shipment of the illicit narcotic to Nigeria from the Middle East, through the Apapa Port.
“Sometime in March 2021, we received intel from our international partners on the shipment of illicit narcotics to Nigeria from the Middle East through the Apapa port. The container passed through three countries and was transloaded in a North African country, but we kept track of it along with our partners.
Marwa noted that the container passed through three countries, and was trans-loaded in a North African country, while the agency kept tracking it, in collaboration with its partners.
He explained that, the agency attempted to examine the container on Aug. 26, but found three pieces of marble polishing machines, also called Sanders.
The Chairman further said, on Aug. 31, the Agency’s sniffer dogs turned up a positive indication on the rotor coil of one of the three machines.
“On Sept. 1, 2021, 18,560 tablets of a drug, suspected to be Amphetamine (Captagon), weighing 3.2kg, was found deeply concealed in one of the coils.
“On Sept. 2, the other two machines were dismantled, and in all, a total of 451,807 tablets, weighing 74.119 kilogrammes, were discovered hidden inside the rotor coils.
“Going by the street value of about 25 dollars per tablet, the importer would have raised 11.3 million dollars, about N5.8 billion,” he said.
Marwa pointed out that if not for the intelligence of his men and the support from their international partners, the drug would have caused serious havoc in Nigeria, as such highly addictive pills were mainly available in the Middle East.
“The pill produces a euphoric intensity in users, allowing them to stay awake for days, making them fearless, and pre-disposes them to danger.
“The production and sale of this pill is controlled by militias and large criminal groups in the Middle East and beyond any doubt, Captagon has been linked to the escalation of the Syrian Civil War.
“A lot of the seizures have been made since 2017, mostly in Arabian Peninsula, Italy and Turkey, and its origin is traced to Syria and Lebanon.
“This gave rise to the theory that ISIS is behind the production and sales, to generate funds for weapons,” he noted.
Marwa said given the dangerous background of Captagon, it was obvious that the destination for the drugs was the camp of insurgents and bandits all over Nigeria.
He commended his men and other sister security agencies at the port that assisted in intercepting the drug, stressing that the agency was on the trail of suspects involved in the importation of the illicit drug.
He said: “Going by the street value of about $25 per tablet, the importer would have raised $11.3million, which is equivalent to N6 billion.
“Imagine the impact of this drug in the hands of criminal gangs or a fraction of the profit from its sale being used to fuel criminalities across the country, we can think of our worst-case scenarios and they will still be farther from the repercussions that could be unleashed on the country.
“It may interest you to know that, as far as we know, this is the first time this drug is being brought into any African country South of the Sahara. This tiny, highly addictive pill, widely available across the Middle East, produces a euphoric intensity in users, allowing them to stay awake for days, making them fearless, predisposes them to reckless action that puts the lives of people around them in jeopardy.
“What should give any discerning Nigerian a nightmare concerning this drug is the fact that its production and sale is controlled by militias and large criminal groups in the Middle East. And beyond any doubt, Captagon has been linked to the escalation of the Syrian Civil War. A lot of seizures have been made since 2017, mostly in the Arabian Peninsula, and in Italy and Turkey, and the point of origination, almost all the time, were traced back to Syria and Lebanon. This gave rise to the theory that ISIS is behind the production and sale of Captagon as a means of generating funds for weapons and combatants, and for use as a stimulant to keep them fighting.
“Lest we forget, Captagon was the name of the drug found on the phone of the French-Tunisian terrorist who killed 84 civilians in France on Bastille Day in 2016. That is the drug we have on our hands now. If these facts are not grim enough, we should all remember a lesson from history, when in World War Two, Nazi Germany wreaked havoc across Europe with chemically-enhanced soldiers that the combined forces of Europe could not tame.
“This is the same condition we have presently with insurgents, bandits, cultists, robbers, kidnappers and herders spilling rampaging across the country.
“Given the dark and dangerous background of Captagon, its not difficult to guess correctly that the destination for the seized drug is none other than the camps of insurgents and bandits all over the country.”
He assured Nigerians that the Agency would continue to work hard with support from local and international partners to block availability and access to all manners of illicit substances across the country.
“Given the zero tolerance of NDLEA for production, trafficking and abuse of any illicit substance, our approach to this discovery couldnt be casual. The first arrest has been made and well not rest on our oars until every person connected to this shipment is arrested,” he added.
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