The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has apprehended Joachin Chikaodi Mbonu, aged 42, who is believed to be the mastermind behind a significant drug ring involved in the manufacturing and distribution of methamphetamine, also known as ‘Mkpuru Mmiri’.

NDLEA arrests wanted drug baron in village mansion - News Band

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This arrest was announced in a statement released on Tuesday, July 9, by Femi Babafemi, the NDLEA’s Director of Media & Advocacy. According to Babafemi, Mbonu had previously fled from South Africa, where he had been living and learning the process of making methamphetamine, due to being investigated for drug-related activities.

Mbonu was captured, along with an associate, in his luxurious home located in the village of Umuomi within the Uzogba-Ezenomi autonomous community, Ikeduru local government area, Imo State. The NDLEA had been targeting this drug cartel, which operates mainly in Imo and Rivers states, after gathering intelligence that linked the group to large-scale methamphetamine distribution across the South East, South-South, and other regions of the country.

Following weeks of surveillance, a special operations unit of the NDLEA tracked down Mbonu to his village mansion in Imo state. On Friday, July 5, 2024, they apprehended him and his cartel member, Kenneth Chibuike Ofoegbu, aged 34. During the operation, officers seized various quantities of methamphetamine, precursor chemicals, a pump-action shotgun, and cartridges.

The items confiscated from Mbonu’s residence included 419.99 grams of methamphetamine, 750 grams of iodine (a meth precursor), 500 grams of sodium bicarbonate (another meth precursor), two electronic weighing scales, and a pump-action shotgun with four cartridges.

The operatives then proceeded to another hideout owned by Mbonu at 11 Redemption Avenue, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, where they discovered additional items: 750 grams of processed sodium bicarbonate, 170 grams of plain sodium bicarbonate, and 75 grams of methamphetamine.

In another raid at the home of Mbonu’s associate, Odoemenam Pedro Chinedu, who is currently at large, located in Njaba LGA, Imo State, the officers recovered another pump-action shotgun with 25 cartridges, among other items.

While Mbonu remains in custody, two of his mansions in Imo State have been earmarked for potential forfeiture to the federal government. The NDLEA highlighted that Mbonu had fled South Africa, where he had lived for years and become skilled in methamphetamine production, due to an investigation into his drug activities. Upon returning to Nigeria, he continued his illegal operations by setting up secret labs in remote villages to avoid detection.

Chairman and Chief Executive of the NDLEA, Brig.-Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (Rtd), praised the officers and personnel involved in this extensive operation. He emphasized that the successful dismantling of the meth syndicate should serve as a stern warning to other drug cartels that there is no safe haven for them anywhere in the country.