By Correspondent Chinyere Ogbonna – National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has uncovered a clandestine laboratory for the illicit production of Methamphetamine in Lagos State, South –West Nigeria.
The production centre a three bed room bungalow located around Iba, Ojo Local Government Area of Lagos State has a production capacity of twenty to fifty kilogram’s per cycle, hence making it a large production centre similar to what is found in Mexico.
However, officials of NDLEA are working to ascertain the possibility of a link with other international drug networks.
Chairman and Chief Executive of the Agency, Ahmadu Giade who pledged the readiness of the anti-narcotic agency to address the new twists and forms in the criminal trade described the discovery as the first of its type in West Africa and a land mark success in Nigeria’s drug control operations.
The premises had been sealed off by the Agency.
According to Alhaji Giade, “another landmark success has been achieved with the recent detection of a clandestine laboratory in Lagos for the production of Methamphetamine. This discovery is the first of its type in West Africa and the country will continue to work hard to address challenges posed by new twists and forms in the production of narcotics in the sub-region”.
Some persons including the suspected kingpin have been arrested in connection with the illicit drug production centre.
In the words of the NDLEA boss, “we have commenced painstaking investigation into the case with a number of suspects including the kingpin in our custody.
The suspects are Mr. Bernard Umezurike, forty-four years old, the alleged owner of the illegal production, Mr. Polycarp Ndilobi, forty-one years old who was working at the clandestine laboratory.
Meanwhile, forensic experts from the United States have commenced the safe dismantling of the laboratory and evacuation of materials used in the illicit Methamphetamine production.
According to the NDLEA boss, several seizures of Methamphetamine meant for export made by the NDLEA in recent time indicate a possible production centre in the country.
He added that this gave rise to intensive surveillance to trace the source of the drug that is manufactured from precursor chemicals.
According to the officials of the agency, methamphetamine is a white, odourless, bitter-tasting crystalline powder that easily dissolves in water or alcohol and is usually taken orally or intra-nasally by snorting the powder; by needle injection, or by smoking.
It is a strong stimulant that affects the central nervous system.
It is highly addictive and a derivative of Amphetamine. long-term methamphetamine abuse has many negative health consequences, including extreme weight loss, severe dental problems also known as “meth mouth”, anxiety, confusion, insomnia, mood disturbances, and violent behaviours.
Other psychotic features include paranoia, visual and auditory hallucinations, and delusions such as the sensation of insects crawling under the skin.
Some of the street names of methamphetamine are “speed”, “meth”, “chalk”, “ice”, “crystal” and “glass”.
NDLEA boss noted that there are very few cases of abuse of methamphetamine in the country as most seizures so far made were meant for export.
The NDLEA boss blamed the sad development on the get rich quick syndrome.
He equally noted that the Agency was not unmindful of the additional responsibilities placed on law enforcement with the strange twist in drug trade. “Covert laboratories such as this where narcotics are produced is new in the country the NDLEA boss added.
The demand on law enforcement is quite enormous he said while the health implications are quite horrific.
The inordinate quest for wealth has driven man to commit unimaginable criminal and sordid acts” Giade emphasized.
While raising the alarm over the dangerous nature of the attacks, the Agency urged members of the public to be vigilant and avoid falling prey to drug criminals.
The Methamphetamine preparation according to the agency emits gases like phosphate and Hydrogen Chloride that can cause instant pulmonary damages and death when inhaled.
The NDLEA boss stressed that studies have also shown that even when there is a clean-up exercise of the house, it is still risky to inhabit the house used for the production of methamphetamine.
NDLEA noted that some of the useful tips that will help in the detection of production sites include the following: Strange smell of chemicals, withering of grasses, skin irritation and choking sensation experienced in a particular area.
Others are locations used are under lock and key while occupants usually avoid interaction with neighbours.
Alhaji Ahmadu Giade urged members of the public to report suspected cases to the nearest NDLEA office or call 08062199999.