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Cocaine worth £243,000,000 and weighing 1,800kg seized in mammoth drugs bust

Metro logo Metro 9/20/2022 Tom Sanders
Cocaine worth an estimated £243 million was found in a warehouse in Lagos, Nigeria (Picture: NDLEA) © Provided by Metro Cocaine worth an estimated £243 million was found in a warehouse in Lagos, Nigeria (Picture: NDLEA)

Nearly two tonnes of cocaine with a street value of £243 million has been seized from a warehouse in Nigeria.

Five people were arrested in the West African nation’s ‘biggest ever’ drug bust, including the warehouse manager and four ‘drug barons’ – one of whom was described as Jamaican.

More than 1,800kg of the Class A drug was discovered stashed away at the secluded site – approximately the same weight as a hippo or large family car.

Local media say the mammoth haul of drugs, found in the residential Ikorodu area of Lagos on Sunday, was destined for buyers in Europe and Asia.

West Africa is a major transit hub for cocaine made in Latin America.

In April, police in Ivory Coast seized more than two tonnes of cocaine, while a staggering 9.5 tonnes was found in the island archipelago of Cape Verde in 2019.

Speaking to local media, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency director Femi Babafemi said the bust was ‘the biggest singular cocaine seizure in the history of Nigeria’.

The cocaine belonged to an international drug syndicate which had been under investigation since 2018 (Picture: NDLEA)

The cocaine belonged to an international drug syndicate which had been under investigation since 2018 (Picture: NDLEA)
© Provided by Metro

Mr Babafemi praised the work of both local and international law enforcement, and thanked the American DEA for their assistance.

‘This was done in a well-coordinated and intelligence-led operation that lasted two days across different locations in Lagos State,’ he said.

The arrested suspects were allegedly members of an international drug syndicate under investigation since 2018.

Mr Babafemi referred to the five men as ‘kingpins of the cocaine cartel’ and said they were picked up from their hotels and hideouts in different parts of Lagos.

‘Preliminary investigation reveals the Class A drugs were warehoused in the residential estate, from where the cartel was trying to sell them to buyers in Europe, Asia, and other parts of the world,’ he said.

‘They were stored in 10 travel bags and 13 drums.’

Drug seizures have steadily risen in West Africa this year, indicating traffickers are increasingly using the continent as transport hub between the Americas and Europe.

Mr Babefemi added the bust was a historical blow to the drug cartels and a strong warning.

‘They will all go down if they fail to realise that the game has changed,’ he said.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime said global cocaine seizures reached a record high of 1,424 tonnes in 2020.

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