NDLEA declares couple wanted, arrests cartel members

By Innocent Raphael

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has declared Kazeem Omogoriola Owoalade, alias Abdul Qassim Adisa Balogun, and Rashidat Ayinke Owoalade, alias Bolarinwa Rashidat Ayinke, wanted for running a cocaine cartel from India.

According to a statement made public by Femi Babafemi, the agency’s Director, Media & Advocacy, this declaration follows the arrest of four members of their syndicate in Lagos.

The NDLEA also revealed it has seized a Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) and sealed two houses linked to the couple for potential forfeiture to the federal government.

It also disclosed that two syndicate members, Imran Taofeek Olalekan and Ishola Isiaka Olalekan, were apprehended on April 3, 2024, at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos.while attempting to smuggle 3.40 kg of cocaine to Oman via a Qatar Airlines flight.

According to investigations, the head of the cartel, Alhaji Kazeem Omogoriola Owoalade, is based in India under the alias Abdul Qassim Adisa Balogun.

The breakthrough came after five weeks of surveillance, culminating in the arrest of Hamed Abimbola Saheed in Lagos. Saheed, a direct associate of the cartel leader, was found with 900 grams of phenacetine, a cocaine cutting agent.

This arrest led NDLEA operatives to the Owoalade’s residence, where another suspect was detained and additional cocaine, a new model Toyota RAV4 SUV, and drug concealment equipment were recovered.

Further operations by NDLEA’s Directorate of Operations and General Investigations (DOGI) intercepted drug consignments concealed in steel bolts and shea butter at a courier firm in Lagos.

These included 587 grams of cocaine bound for China and amphetamine hidden in vape pens destined for the UK. In Port Harcourt, a shipment of 3.6 kg of cannabis strain “Loud” was intercepted, leading to the arrest of Emeka Nwadiaro in Onitsha.

In other operations, NDLEA officers intercepted a Mercedes-Benz bus carrying 840 kg of cannabis in Lagos, arrested individuals with 75,000 opioid pills in Benue, and found 3.85 kg of cannabis concealed in a gas cylinder in Imo.

In Borno, a 70-year-old man was caught with 2 kg of cannabis and diazepam, and in Kaduna, 30 kg of cannabis was seized.

In the same vein, a consignment of 91.1 kg of opioids and 13 kg of cannabis was recovered from a petrol tanker in Yobe.

NDLEA officers in Niger intercepted a Toyota Hummer bus carrying 2,025 improvised explosive devices (IEDs), resulting in the arrest of four suspects across multiple states.

Other notable arrests included the seizure of 1,000 ampoules of pentazocine in Katsina and 105 kg of cannabis in Edo.

NDLEA Chairman/Chief Executive Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (Retd) commended the efforts of NDLEA officers across various states for their significant achievements.

He highlighted the agency’s ongoing War Against Drug Abuse (WADA) advocacy, with sensitization programs conducted in schools across several states.

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