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There’s Potential For Expansion Of Cocaine Market In Africa, Asia, UNODC Raises The Alarm



The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has raised an alarm over the potential for the expansion of the cocaine market in Africa and Asia.

The UNODC, in a new report on Thursday, also decried the growing cultivation of coca bush and improvements in the process of converting coca bush to cocaine hydrochloride, warning that West and Central Africa are increasingly being used as key transit zones for the drug.

The new report released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), read: “Global production of cocaine has jumped dramatically over the past two years following an initial slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Global Report on Cocaine 2023 details how coca cultivation soared 35 per cent from 2021 to 2022, a record high and the sharpest year-to-year increase since 2016, with the rise being a result of both an expansion in coca bush cultivation and improvements in the process of converting coca bush to cocaine hydrochloride.

According to the report, the steep growth in supply has been matched by a similar swelling in demand, with many regions showing a steady rise in cocaine users over the past decade.


While the cocaine market remains quite concentrated in the Americas and parts of Europe, the report warns that there is a strong potential for a large expansion in Africa and Asia.

Nevertheless, interceptions of cocaine shipments by law enforcement around the world have also risen sharply, with seizures reaching a record high of nearly 2,000 tons in 2021.

“The surge in the global cocaine supply should put all of us on high alert,” stated UNODC Executive Director Ghada Waly in reacting to these findings. “The potential for the cocaine market to expand in Africa and Asia is a dangerous reality.

I urge governments and others to closely examine the report’s findings to determine how this transnational threat can be met with transnational responses based on awareness raising, prevention, and international and regional cooperation.”

The report examines the emergence of new hubs for cocaine trafficking, noting that countries in Southeastern Europe and Africa – particularly those in West and Central Africa – are increasingly being used as key transit zones for the drug.


Ports on the North Sea like Antwerp, Rotterdam, and Hamburg, meanwhile, have eclipsed traditional entry points in Spain and Portugal for cocaine arriving in Western Europe. Traffickers are also diversifying their routes in Central America by sending more and more cocaine to Europe, in addition to North America.

The modalities of cocaine traffickers are also examined in the report, with findings showing that the criminal landscape is fragmenting into a myriad of trafficking networks. The demobilisation of fighters from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) – who had previously controlled many of Colombia’s coca-growing regions – created an opening for others to step in, such as new, local actors; ex-FARC guerillas; or even foreign groups from Mexico and Europe. Additionally, the report reveals that so-called “service providers”, i.e., specialised groups that lend their services at all stages of the supply chain for a fee, have proliferated.

“With its latest knowledge and trends on the routes, modalities, and networks employed by criminal actors,” noted Angela Me, chief of the Research and Analysis Branch at UNODC, “it is my hope that the report will support evidence-based strategies which stay ahead of future developments in cocaine production, trafficking, and use.”

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NDLEA Arrests Pregnant Woman, Widow Over N3.2 Million Counterfeit Cash, Illicit Substances



The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) intercepted a commercial bus carrying N3.2 million in counterfeit cash owned by three suspects: an eight-month pregnant woman named Favour Peter, 24, Esther Adukwu, 27, and Ochigbo Michael, 39.

They were later apprehended at Jabi Park in Abuja in a follow-up operation last Tuesday following the discovery of the counterfeit naira notes in Lokoja, Kogi state.

According to a statement issued on Sunday by the anti-narcotics agency’s spokesman, Femi Babafemi, this is even as NDLEA officers in collaboration with men of the Nigerian Navy Ship Lugard base, Lokoja intercepted 37-year-old Aliyu Lawal along Lokoja-Abuja road last Monday and recovered 620 blocks of cannabis weighing 310 kilogrammes from him, while 10 sacks of the same psychoactive substance weighing 98 kilogrammes were seized along Okene-Lokoja-Abuja express way by NDLEA operativ

Mrs. Theodora Ita, a 40-year-old widow and mother of two, was arrested by NDLEA operatives last Monday in Bassey Edom, Calabar, for producing and selling a lethal new psychoactive substance, NPS, locally known as ‘Combine,’ which is a mixture of different strains of cannabis and opioids soaked in raw gin. At the time of her arrest, 18 litres of the dangerous substance were discovered in used paint drums on her.

In her statement to the NDLEA, Edom claimed that she began illicit drug production and distribution in October 2023. Another suspect, Godwin Okon, 48, was apprehended last Tuesday in Calabar’s Essit Ebum area with 39.4 kilogrammes of cannabis sativa.


While two suspects, Sani Mohammed, 43, and Christopher Eze, 64, were apprehended in Kano’s Sabon Gari area on Tuesday with 900,000 opioid pills recovered, NDLEA agents on patrol along Imo state’s Owerri-Onitsha road intercepted a logistics truck with registration number JGB 403XB on Friday and discovered 230 blocks of cannabis sativa weighing 119 kilogrammes hidden under household items after a thorough search.

Babafemi disclosed that at least 252 kilogrammes of cannabis were seized during a raid at Ijesa Isu forest, Ekiti state on Saturday while four suspects: Adamu Umar, 39; Abdullahi Gimba, 27; Julius Uduakhomu, 28; and Michael Sunday, 24, were nabbed loading 40 kilogrammes of same substance to the engine compartment of a gas truck at Agho village, Owan East local government area of Edo state. He added that two motorcycles used in conveying the consignment to where the gas truck heading to the North was parked, were also recovered.

In Ogun state, a suspect, Ismaila Ogun, was arrested last Friday with 79 kilogrammes of cannabis at Imeko, while 18-year-old Friday Abah was apprehended with 410 kilogrammes of the same substance when NDLEA agents raided Obatedo camp, Itaogbolu forest, Akure North local government area, Ondo state.

The NDLEA spokesperson stated with the same zeal, the various commands of the agency across the country.
continued with the War Against Drug Abuse, WADA, advocacy campaign in the past week.

Meanwhile, NDLEA Chairman/Chief Executive Officer Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (Retd) congratulated officers and men from the agency’s Kogi, Cross River, Ondo, Ekiti, Ogun, Imo, Kano, and Edo commands on their outstanding achievements in drug supply reduction, and praised them and their counterparts in all commands across the country for intensifying their WADA advocacy lectures aimed at reducing drug demand.

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Gunmen Abduct TV Reporter In Rivers, Demand N30m Ransom



Gunmen have kidnapped one of the reporters of Channels Television in Rivers State, Joshua Rogers.

The abduction of Rogers on Thursday night, Saturday INDEPENDENT gathered, happened around 9 p.m. close to his residence at Rumuosi, Obio-Akpor Local Government Area of the state.

Our correspondent learnt that the victim was driving in his official branded vehicle home when the hoodlums accosted him, threatened him with a gun, and whisked him away to an unknown location using his vehicle.

Rogers before he was kidnapped was said to be returning from his official assignment in Government House, Port Harcourt, after covering a political event in Andoni Local Government Area of the state.

Meanwhile, the abductors, it was gathered, have since contacted the victim’s wife, demanding a ransom of N30 million for his release.


The Cameraman of the abducted reporter who did not want his name mentioned, confirmed the incident and appealed to the abductors to set the colleague free unconditionally.

In the meantime, the Andoni, Opobo/Nkoro Journalists Forum, has condemned the kidnap of Joshua Rogers in strong terms.

The group in a statement signed by its President, Philip Owajioboro Philip, and Secretary, Allwell Ene, on Friday, frowned at the abduction of their colleague, describing it as not only barbaric but also a threat to journalism practice in Nigeria.

The group, however, called on the Nigeria Police and indeed all security agencies to without any delay ensure the release of Joshua Rogers unhurt.

“The Andoni, Opobo/Nkoro Journalists Forum has in strong terms condemned the kidnap of our member, Joshua Rogers.


“The Forum frowns at and views his abduction as not only barbaric but a threat to journalism practice in Nigeria.”

They added, “We therefore call on the Nigeria Police and indeed all security agencies to without delay ensure the release of our member, Joshua Rogers, unhurt.

“We also urge his abductors to release him unconditionally without any iota of delay.”


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India-Bound Passenger Ejects, Excretes 80 Wraps Of Ingested Cocaine




Another suspect

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), arrested Freeman Ogbonna, a Delhi, India-bound passenger, at the screening point of Terminal 2 at Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos for ingesting 80 wraps of cocaine.

According to a statement issued on Sunday by the anti-narcotics agency’s spokesman, Femi Babafemi, Ogbonna was arrested on March 31st while attempting to board a flight to Delhi, India via Doha on Qatar Airways with a Liberian international passport bearing the name Carr Bismark.

He was taken for a body scan, which tested positive for drug ingestion, and preliminary checks revealed his true identity as Freeman Ogbonna. He was then placed under observation in NDLEA custody, where he began to show signs of discomfort.

According to Babafemi, Ogbonna was choked by the volume of illicit drugs in his stomach and another substance taken to prevent excretion, and he soon began to retch before vomiting and excreting wraps of cocaine he had ingested almost simultaneously.

He said the suspect, who claimed he was recruited into drug trafficking by a relative, eventually passed out 80 wraps of cocaine weighing 889 grammes through his mouth and anus over four days.

Ogbonna was said to have claimed that he was given the drugs to swallow at a hotel in Ikeja’s Ipodo area in exchange for a cash reward of N300,000 if he delivered them successfully.


According to Babafemi, NDLEA officers at Lagos International Airport intercepted a drug mule, Imran Olalekan, at Gate C of Terminal 1 on his way to Oman with check-in luggage and a backpack last Wednesday. When the operatives thoroughly searched his check-in bag and backpack, they discovered a false bottom concealment of drugs in the check-in luggage and the backpack’s walls.

The NDLEA officers quickly moved in on a man who was accompanying the suspect to the airport. He was later identified as Ishola Olalekan, the person who recruited the trafficker.

Imran Olalekan told NDLEA officers that he returned from Dubai several years ago but still holds a valid residence permit on his old passport. He claimed he was promised N1.5 million if he successfully delivered the consignment in Oman, while his recruiter, Ishola, would be paid N200,000.

Babafemi stated that when the two bags were completely unpacked at the NDLEA office, a charm was discovered in one of the bags and another on the drug mule, who confessed that he travelled to Ibadan, Oyo state, to meet with an ‘Alfa’ who prepared the charm for him to ensure he was not apprehended during the journey.

He also revealed that another charm was discovered on the intermediary, Ishola Olalekan, who accompanied Taofeek to the airport’s departure area. Ishola claimed he obtained the charms for N70,000.


Last Wednesday, NDLEA agents intercepted 2,144 parcels weighing 1,072 kilogrammes of Colorado, a synthetic strain of cannabis, at Lagos’ Tincan seaport. The seizure occurred during a joint examination with Customs Service and other stakeholders of a container labelled GAOU 6699215 bound for Montreal but originally from Toronto, Canada.

He stated that the drugs, packed in 46 jumbo bags, were discovered hidden in used 2009 Lexus RX 350, 2011 Toyota Sienna, and 2009 Lexus ES 350 vehicles, as well as used engines, automobile doors, tyres, used household goods, and large drums loaded into the container.

In Kano, a 48-year-old suspect, Gidado Sani, who jumped bail granted by a Federal High Court in Kano on drug charges, was re-arrested last Friday in the Sharada area of the state with 85 blocks of cannabis weighing 50.1 kilogrammes, while NDLEA operatives in Ogun state arrested another suspect, Wasiu Jimoh, during a raid operation at Ilese Awo, with 84 parcels (62 kilogrammes) of cannabis sativa.

Operatives in Lagos last Wednesday intercepted a suspect, Emeka Umeh, with 506.2 kilogrammes cannabis at Igbede, Ojo area of the state, while another suspect, Victor Okeke, was nabbed last Friday at Igbo Elerin, Ojo, with 142 grammes of cannabis sativa and 175 litres of skuchies recovered from him, as well as an attempt by 35-year-old Ifeanyi Udogwu to smuggle 1.5 kilogrammes cocaine concealed in music speakers from Lagos through Aba, Abia state to his uncle, Ifeanyi Udogwu base

Meanwhile, commands across the country balanced drug supply reduction efforts with War Against Drug Abuse (WADA) advocacy campaigns in schools, markets, motor parks, worship centres, and communities.


While commending the MMIA, Tincan, Ogun, Kano, and Lagos Commands of the Agency for their efforts over the last week, NDLEA Chairman/Chief Executive Officer Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (Rtd) urged them and their compatriots across the country to remain vigilant and intensify their offensive action against drug cartels, as well as their WADA advocacy campaign in every community nationwide.l

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