By Deborah Coker
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has discovered a large quantity of the harvested dried weeds suspected to be cannabis sativa in a warehouse in Ugbubezi Forest, Owan West Local Government Area of Edo.
The Edo State Commander of the NDLEA, Mr Buba Wakawa, made this known in a statement issued in Benin on Wednesday.
Wakawa said that officers of the command discovered the large quantity of the harvested dried weeds suspected to be cannabis sativa or Indian Hemp in a warehouse in Ugbubezi Forest.
He said that the drug with a street value of more than N20 million was evacuated from the warehouse by a team of over 70 officers of the command.
Wakawa said the exhibits included: 34 bags of compressed suspected cannabis weighing 680 kg and 94 bags of dried weeds weighing 1,316 kg.
Two suspected members of the drug cartel working in the warehouse were apprehended and were being interrogated.
The NDLEA commander said that the warehouse was discovered following an intelligence report.
“Working on intelligence report, we successfully traced a major cannabis warehouse located in Ugbubezi forest in Owan West Local Government Area,’’ Wakawa said.
“We are poised for total offensive against drug trafficking cartels in the state.
He said that the command had equally spread its dragnet to apprehend other members of the cartel and warned that there was no safe haven for drug traffickers in the state.
Wakawa explained that the suspects, who claimed to be farmers, attributed their involvement in drug trafficking to poverty.
“One of the suspects, Augustine Egwutu, 45, said he was married with three children and that he used to cultivate plantain and pepper but wildfire engulfed his farm and he lost everything.
“The suspect said that because he could no longer feed his family and his landlord threatened to evict him for not being able to pay his rent, he went into cannabis business.
“On the other hand, the other suspect Gabriel Orji, 38, told us that he used to cultivate cassava and plantain before joining the cannabis business because he needed multiple sources of income’’, the NDLEA chief said.
Wakawa said that both suspects would soon be charged to court.
He said that in line with the NDLEA Act, the suspects risked a minimum of 15 years imprisonment for unlawful possession of cannabis, if found guilty. (NAN)