New ways traffickers smuggle in narcotics –NDLEA

As the Federal Government goes tough on drug trafficking, so have cunning dealers in narcotics devised new ways of smuggling hard drugs   into the country.

In spite of this, CRIME DIIGEST learnt, the National Drug Law and Enforcement Agency has not exactly folded its arms and watch criminals rubbish its efforts at keeping the society free of dangerous drugs.

Instead, the agency recently discovered new ways and strategies deployed by drug cartels in the drug trade in 2011.

In an encounter with CRIME DIGEST in Lagos, the NDLEA top man in charge of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Mr. Hamza Umar, said drug traffickers had become so cunning and sophisticated that even Western countries would be amazed at their desperation.

Umar said, “We have made some seizures of hard drugs in such a manner that would shock our counterparts abroad.”

He said that some of the female suspects, who were caught with substances believed to be narcotics, actually hid the drugs in their underwear.

He said, “When we searched those women, we discovered that what we had assumed to be breasts were just the brassieres with about 300g of cocaine concealed in each cup.”

He said the NDLEA discovered in 2011, with great shock, that traffickers had resorted to smuggling cocaine in liquid form.

Umar said, “In the history of drug trafficking in Nigeria, we seized some cocaine in liquid form. This young man came in as an importer of red wine. He came with cartons of wine and inside each carton there were nine packages.

“We found liquid cocaine hidden between two of the packages. The traffickers probably assumed that if we checked the packages, we would think they contained just red wine.”

The manner with which the hard drugs were concealed was not the only interesting aspect of the discovery. It was the way they were packed. CRIME DIGEST learnt that the alleged trafficker inserted one package of the drugs after every two packages of red wine. And in the end, three of the nine packages actually contained pure cocaine in liquid form.

The NDLEA boss said that the man suspected to have ferried in the drugs allegedly worked for a Brazilian drug syndicate.

Umar said, “This is the second arrest this year and both suspects, came from Brazil. This suspect, Patrick Chukwuemeka, was caught with 7.1kg of cocaine in liquid form, while the first suspect Martins Henry Anuo imported 1.500kg of powdery cocaine from Brazil. Five hundred grammes were hidden in the sole of his shoes, while 1kg was concealed in his hand luggage.

 “Also, we discovered another mode of concealment in what is popularly known as sweet tomato. It is usually factory sealed. When we ask where it was going, they said some Nigerian or African restaurants abroad had requested this sweet tomato. Some of our officers checked the weight of the cargo and when they found out it was unusually heavy, they became suspicious. We have a right to open one or two. The first seizure of this kind weighed about 6kg.”

Another method perfected by drug traffickers was through imported car spare parts. Umar said although the parts would be factory fitted, when further inspections were carried out, drugs would be in the car parts.

The NDLEA boss said that although they had not caught the main perpetrator of the crime, the agent involved with the goods has been apprehended.

“We have discovered in the cargo section of the airport that car spare parts, especially shock absorbers, are used to smuggle drugs. They are usually brand new spare parts; you would see the casket, the box, you would see it factory-fitted. What they do there, instead of the long steel that would enter into the compressing, they make a hollow, carve out sealing tapes, make some holes and insert the drugs inside to replace the iron. Although we were unable to get the main person, we were able to get the agent. I am sure wherever he is, he knew he had lost a lot of money. About 70kg is a lot of money. It runs into millions of naira. I can say the exact value because it is what tempts young people into carrying drugs,” he said.

He told CRIME DIGEST that drug carriers had also devised a means of putting drugs in the handle of their suitcases. He said, “This year we discovered smugglers putting cocaine inside the handles, of suitcases. The long handle which is used to drag the suitcase; what they do is that they remove the handles, wrap drugs into them and fix them back. Their wisdom is that when our officers check, they would only be particular about the contents of the bag. Meanwhile, the main thing is in the handle.”
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