The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, (NDLEA) has discovered three clandestine laboratories used for illegal production of methamphetamine. The illegal drug factories were detected in Anambra State South East Nigeria. A suspected drug kingpin Mr. Chukwunwendu Sylvester Ikejiakwu aka Blessed who was arrested is said to be the owner of the laboratories and leader of an International Drug Trafficking Organisation (DTO) that recruits and sponsors drug couriers to China, Malaysia, Turkey and Italy. NDLEA Chairman/Chief Executive, Ahmadu Giade said that sufficient evidences had been gathered on the suspect to ease his prosecution.
According to the NDLEA boss who described the arrest as the latest outstanding operational success recorded by the Agency, “the Special Enforcement Team (SET) of the NDLEA has concluded a model investigation of an International Drug Trafficking Organisation (DTO). The Agency apprehended the suspected leader of a drug syndicate in his country home at Ozubulu after thirteen months of intense surveillance. Three additional clandestine laboratories that produce methamphetamine had been discovered in his home town in Anambra State”.
Giade stated that based on intelligence report received on April 23, 2014, a high level covert operation commenced on the suspect Mr. Chukwunwendu Sylvester Ikejiakwu aka Blessed of Ozubulu, Ekwusigo Local Government Area of Anambra State. “The 37 year old suspected drug kingpin was found to be deeply involved in Unlawful Exportation of illicit drugs, Unlawful Assembling as well as running of methamphetamine production laboratories in the Eastern part of Nigeria. He shuttles between his country home in Ozubulu, Nnewi and No. 2, St, James Close Ajao Estate Isolo Lagos where he resides in Lagos for his drug business” he added.
The Agency equally uncovered that Chukwunwendu Sylvester Ikejiakwu aka Blessed is the Group Managing Director of Blessed Group of Companies. He hides under the cover of motorcycle parts business in running a drug cell that has international affiliation. His companies include Blessed Benita Global Limited, Ideal Motorcycle Company Limited and God’s Special Enterprise Limited. He specializes in recruiting and sponsoring drug couriers to China, Malaysia, Turkey and Italy. He also pays his couriers an average of $5,000 dollars per trip.
He runs the clandestine methamphetamine laboratories in his premises located in Akubuezem Nnewi, Anambra State. It was gathered that he hired one Raphael who is a professional methamphetamine cook to work for him. He pays him five hundred thousand naira (N500,000) for his service and seven hundred thousand naira (N700,000) for the purchase of precursor chemicals per production cycle. The production capacity per cycle is 14kg.
“During a search on one of the laboratories at his Nnewi house, 2.615kg of liquid methamphetamine was found inside a yellow plastic jug and 250grammes of crystallized methamphetamine concealed in a white transparent polythene bag. Methamphetamine laboratory equipment seized from his house include the following; One (1) approximate volume measuring scale, Six (6) heating filters, Six giant conical flasks, industrial tubes and cups of sodium hydroxide. Others are containers of iodine, Acetone, Hydrochloric Acid, weighing scale, masks and hand gloves among others” the NDLEA boss added.
Also recovered from him are paraphernalia for drug concealment similar to the ones seized with drugs at the airports and land borders. They include an electronic weighing scale, assorted artifacts, laptop bags, motorcycle parts, air compressors, bus and truck mirrors, araldite and Atiso paint, processed brown envelopes and impulse sealer. Others are transparent packing nylon and carbon paper, tower foil paper, needles, threads, super glue and many more.
The suspect had two (2) Nigeria International passports and one Ghana passport all bearing his photographs with different names. Details of his three passports are as follows; Ikechukwu Sylvester Chukwunwe, Nigeria passport with No: 04272646; Samson Odinakar: Nigeria passport No: A03472814 and Anthony Yeboah Frank, Ghana passport No: H2437245. Two other passports belonging to suspected drug couriers were also seized.
While surveillance on this criminal group was ongoing, the NDLEA intercepted 23kg of methamphetamine on February 19, 2015 along Badagry expressway, Lagos en-route Cotonou. The seized drug was ultimately traced to Chukwunwendu Sylvester Ikejiakwu aka BLESSED. One AZUBIKE is now standing trial at the Federal High court Lagos in respect of that seizure. Some drug couriers sponsored by him have been arrested and are in prison custody in China, Turkey and Malaysia.
Some of the assets believed to be purchased with drug proceeds had been traced. “We are investigating over sixteen bank accounts belonging to him in different banks. He has a Toyota Venza with vehicle registration No AAA 18 BP, a Peugeot 406 with vehicle registration No FST 587 AS; a Q5 Audi four runner with vehicle registration No EPE 546 CF and a Toyota Sienna SUV with vehicle registration No KRD 399 CG.
He allegedly bought a piece of land at No. 21A Joy Avenue, Ajao Estate in 2009 at the cost of twenty five million naira (N25,000,000) and rebuilt it in 2012 to three (3) story building at the cost of ninety million naira (N90,000,000) only. He also bought a property at No 2 St. James Close Ajao Estate for seventeen million naira (N17,000,000) and built a five (5) bedroom duplex on it at the cost of twenty five million naira (N25,000,000) only.
The illegal drug activities of the suspect have grave economic, social and political consequences on the nation. Methamphetamine production generates toxic waste that pollutes the environment and exposes workers, neighbours and guests to health hazards. Young and active youths are used as drug couriers to smuggle produced drugs outside the country. This is in addition to creating local drug addicts due to availability of the drugs at affordable cost.
Some of the drug couriers he sponsored are languishing in jail in China, Malaysia, Turkey and Italy. Some are believed to have died in foreign prisons. Besides, Nigeria has suffered international embarrassment due to arrest of our nationals abroad
Notwithstanding the challenges, Giade said that the era of in-depth and analytical investigations have come to stay in the NDLEA. A solid foundation has been established and we shall continue to build on the existing structures. The Agency shall ensure that this case is diligently prosecuted and all assets traced to the suspect and his group is forfeited to the federal government.
He reassured members of the public that no drug baron shall go unpunished. At the most expedient time, more drug barons shall be exposed and prosecuted. I wish to thank the officers that took part in the operation and urge them not to relent as every outstanding performance shall be rewarded.