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Drug Trafficking: NDLEA Arrests Intending Pilgrims Smuggling Cocaine in Lagos

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Four intending pilgrims for the ongoing Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia have been arrested by operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in Lagos on Wednesday, June 5th, 2024.

The arrests come as a stark reminder of the lengths drug traffickers go to in attempting to move their illicit substances.

According to a statement issued by NDLEA’s Director of Media and Advocacy, Femi Babafemi, the arrests were the result of an intelligence-led operation conducted at the Emerald Hotel in the Ladipo area of Oshodi.

The agency received intel that a group of individuals were planning to use the pilgrimage as a cover to smuggle cocaine out of the country. Acting on this tip, NDLEA officers raided the hotel and apprehended four suspects: Usman Kamorudeen (31), Olasunkanmi Owolabi (46), Fatai Yekini (38), and Ayinla Kemi (34).

The situation unfolded as the suspects were caught in the act of ingesting wraps of cocaine in preparation for their flight to Saudi Arabia. A search of their rooms revealed a total of 200 pellets of cocaine, with a combined weight of approximately 2.2 kilograms. This significant seizure highlights the agency’s vigilance in combating drug trafficking, even within seemingly religious contexts.

NDLEA Chairman, Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (retd) commended the officers involved in the operation, praising their proactiveness and intelligence-gathering skills. He emphasized the agency’s unwavering commitment to disrupting the activities of drug cartels who exploit religious journeys for their criminal pursuits.

“We are determined to send a clear message to those who want to use pilgrimage as a cover for drug trafficking,” Marwa declared. “We have put them on notice. They will not succeed in using Hajj or any other religious activity as a shield for their criminal acts. We’ll continue to track, trace and apprehend them.”

This incident serves as a warning to potential drug traffickers that the NDLEA remains vigilant in its fight against the illegal drug trade. The agency utilizes various tactics, including intelligence gathering and proactive operations, to disrupt their activities and protect Nigeria from the negative effects of drug trafficking.

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