Maritime: USCG, International Navies, NDLEA, Intensify Battles Against Drug Traffickers

By Stehen Ubanna

Drug traffickers operating between the North American country of the United States of America, USA, Asian country of India and Nigerian, are in for ore troubles. 

This is because the United States Coast Guard, USCG, and the Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency NDLEA, under the close watch of Jide Kosoko, a Nollywood activist and other international Navies had toughen up security at their respective countries seaports and international waters to clip the wings of the narcotics traffickers.

The USCG, agency was said to have beamed its searchlight, particular, on the  speedboats operating around the Caribbean sea just as the NDLEA, had beamed its  beamed its search light on the  20ft and 40 ft, Containers offloaded at the premier port of Apapa, Tincan Island, ports  and the Onne port among other seaports across the country.

The recent USCG, seizure of cocaine at the port of Florida in USA, speaks volume. The USCG, , had revealed that  that it had offloaded  more than  10,584Kg of cocaine  worth over $63 million  at the port of Florida and sank a speedboat suspected of smuggling the drugs  in the Caribbean sea.

USG cocaine seizure valued $63 million

Going by reports making the rounds, the offloaded cocaine in the port of Florida by US Coast Guard was said to be part of the agency’s efforts to rid the country of drug traffickers.  The operations that was aid to have been conducted on Thursday, June 6, 2024,   off Purto Cabello, Venezuela, by Royal Netherlands Navy which had a US, Coast Guard enforcement detachment and helicopter interdiction tactical squadron on board, may have sent a message to the drug traffickers that it is n longer going to be business as usual using the American ports as to smuggle drugs to other parts of the world, particular, Nigeria, the most populous country in the African continent.

An eye witness  account confirmed  that the cocaine seizures  came two days after  the Authorities had said that the same Dutch Naval ship  which had carried out the operation alongside the USCG, vessel  in the Caribbean sea , had identified   an ocean going vessel   suspected  of smuggling the narcotics  in the international waters.

The suspected speed boat carrying the narcotics   was said to have failed to stop on the early morning of Tuesday, June 4, 2024, for routine checks but headed straight   toward the Dutch patrol boat, thus giving the Dutch Naval personnel and USCG, on board the patrol boat room to fire weapons at the speedboat which was said to have caught fire in self-defense.

Officials of the USCG, had said that  the multi-million dollar cocaine seizures   and shoot in the Caribbean sea had come about   a week after  a separate   Coast Guard Crew  had offloaded  $468 million  worth of  cocaine  in  San Diego, believed to be a fallout of eight separate operation off  the Coasts of Mexico  and central and South America.  

Ever since  the USCG, intensified its efforts to deal decisively with the  drug barons  operating around the Caribbean sea to forestall them from  entering the US, market,  the international drug traffickers were said to have resorted  to using  different kinds of speedboats  to move  their narcotics  and evade arrests.

Lst May, the Italian Police were said to have announced the seizure of a remote – controlled submarine likely intended to be used to transport drugs as part of an international drug trafficking network. Also, in the same month of May, 2024,  the French Navy was said to have intercepted and seized  2.4 tons of cocaine  from a Venezuela fishing boat  about 1,500 Kilometers  north east of the Caribbeans  Island of Matinique.

There are reports  as well of a massive  cocaine shipment  seizure  in the Caribean  Sea off Colombia , a country of drug barons , after military ships  and planes chased  down a speedboat  holding down   four tons  of the dangerous drug. The British warship and an American patrol aircraft were said to have also chased down a speedboat as its Crew tried to flee and dump its cargo of drugs into the water near the US. Virgin Islands. The USCG and the British Sailors were said to have recovered about 13,230Kg of cocaine from the area.

Kosoko: Chairman, NDLEA

Enogh of the USCG, and other intenational Navies battles against drug traffickers. We turn to the NDLEA.  Only recently, Kosoko,  led  NDLEA,  had  intercepted and seized  a shipment  of 175,000 bottles  of opoid   imported from Indian , barely a week   after seizing a shipment  of 175 bottles  of Codeine –based syrup  at the Onne seaport, in Rivers state.

Femi Babafemi, DDLEA,  spokesperson, had said that   the agency  had said that the  two different drug seizures  followed earlier intelligence  gathering   which was said to have encouraged the agency  operatives at the Onne port   to request that the shipment  be stepped down  for 100% examination .

Cartons of codeine syrup loaded in a 40ft Container seized by NDLEA at Onne port

The NDLEA , spokesperson,  may have shocked Nigerians , when he revealed that  the latest  85 cartons  of Codeine syrup containing 175,000  bottles  , weighing 26,250 Kg , which was made   on Friday, June 7, 2024,  during  a joint examination  by the agency  operatives , Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, and other security agencies personnel at he port and the Department of  State Security, DSS,  has sent a signal to the drug traffickers based in the US, and India, that Nigerian ports are no longer safe routes to transport drugs  to the West and Central African sub-regional markets.

Given an insider information, Babafemi, the NDLEA, Image maker had said that the 40ft. Container , marked  HASU  478890, was shipped from India to the Onne port in Rivers state and was to  be transferred to  C  bonded  terminal in Enugu, Enugu , state but luck ran out of the importer with the agent who are on the run.

The  NDLEA, operatives  stationed at the Murtala Mohammed International airport  , were said to have also intercepted  and impounded   600  ampoules  of pentazocine injection , promethazine  and other opioids consignments  brought into the country by a Courier  firm in Lagos, the nation’s Commercial nerve center.

The NDLEA  operatives  may have outsmarted the Federal Operations Unit, FOU, zone B, Kaduna, Command Operatives, Patrol team officers ,  along  Kaglo-Birnin Kebbi  road  in Kebbi state  on Saturday, June 8, 2024,  to arrest   a 32 year –old  Nigerien ,  Hassan Mummuni,  with  4,000 pills   of  diazepam  and 1.250Kg  of cannabis sativa,  grown and smuggled into the country from Ghana. The cannabis sativa, was said to have been concealed I four pesticide tanks.

The NDLEA operatives who may have been emboldened the agency new Chairman, directive to go all out  and make drug seizures in all nooks and crannies of the country without Compromise were said to have  arrested one Ibrahim Abubakar, popular, Alhaji,  at  Herwagana, in Gombe state,  with  6,740 pills  of tramadol drug and 20,000 tablets of diazepam, which if not intercepted  by the agency operatives  would have fallen into the waiting hands of the  Bandits Group fighters in the north western states of Zamfara, closet state to GAombe. Over 1,098 bottles  of Codeine  syrup  were said to have been recovered also from  one Oyekachi Thangod  Iwula, 42, , following  his arrest  in a Commercial b bus at Aloma junction , Otukpa, Ogbadibo, Local Government Area of Benue state.

Many believe that the NDLEA operatives have gone all out to make drug seizures in the recent months because the  agency new helmsman, on assumption of duties last May ,   had made it clear that  ‘’enough is enough  of this general sickness  of continuous abuse  of drugs’’. He was said to have proceeded to  list a range  of substances  that  had been by the Nigerian Government  which include  Karaole, cafenol, manpower and bitters among others.

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