The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, has alerted to the new trick devised by drug cartels to recruit potential drug couriers through Facebook and other social media platforms.
In a statement Wednesday, the NDLEA said it foiled an attempt by a drug trafficking organization to recruit a 37-year old lady, Gloria Ezeabata, on Facebook as a drug courier under the guise of marriage proposal.
The drug syndicate had planned for Ezeabata to muggle 1.325 kilogrammes of methamphetamine to Malaysia through the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, when she was nabbed.
The narcotics agency said it also arrested the mastermind of the alleged drug cartel.
“The agency has uncovered plot by drug trafficking organisations to use the social media for recruitment of drug mules”, said Roli Bode-George.
“After a painstaking surveillance, we have successfully foiled an attempt to smuggle drugs to Malaysia by a courier recruited online via Facebook. Members of the public should be wary of these antics, ascertain a wholesome relationship and report suspicious cases to the Agency.
“Some of the tricks to watch out for include marriage proposals to unsuspecting female victims, unsolicited generosity like cash and other gift items as well as offering all-expense paid trip to Asia, Europe, America and South Africa”.
The NDLEA boss commended the swift intervention of the Agency that led to the arrest and subsequent prevention of the suspect from smuggling drugs to Malaysia where a Nigerian was recently sentenced to death for drug related offence.
“The mode of recruitment is also instructive because of its mass appeal to youths. I expect lovers of social media to learn from this arrest. Meanwhile, we are working hard to dislodge drug cartels and halt their sinister plots”, Mrs. Bode George said.
Narrating how Miss Ezeabata was arrested, the NDLEA Commander at the Lagos Airport, Ahmadu Garba, said she was arrested during screening of passengers on an Ethiopian airline flight on her way to Malaysia at the departure hall.
“Substances that tested positive for methamphetamine weighing 1.325kg were detected in her luggage. The drug was concealed in 26 packs of Indomie noodles in a bag of foodstuff containing plantain, pepper, melon and other spices.
“Further investigation led to the arrest of one Mr. Philip Maduabuchi Akpaka, who allegedly coordinated the travel arrangement for Gloria and gave her the bag containing the drugs”.
In her statement, Miss Ezeabata, who works with an accounting firm in Lagos admitted having a Facebook relationship that got her involved in illicit drug business.
“I met a man on Facebook some months ago who lives in Malaysia. He told me while chatting online that he is from my State, Anambra in South East Nigeria.
“After some months, he proposed to marry me and I requested that he comes to Nigeria to meet with my parents as our custom demands. He promised to fulfill every marriage rite”.
Months later, according to the lady, her lover invited her to Malaysia on an all-expenses paid trip.
“After several appeals, I decided to visit him”, the suspect continued.
“The day I was to travel, he told me to take along a bag of foodstuff sent by his mother from the village. I was given the bag at the airport but in the process of checking it in, drug was discovered inside packs of noodles in the bag and I was arrested.”
Mr. Akpaka, 39, admitted to preparing the travel documents of Gloria on the request of his friend based in Malaysia.
“I am a transporter. My friend in Malaysia asked me to prepare travel documents for Gloria. He also asked me to give a bag to Gloria to take to Malaysia”.
The NDLEA said Akpaka and Ezeabata will soon be charged to court for conspiracy, unlawful possession and exportation of narcotic drugs.