The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency has described the Brazil-Nigeria route as the most notorious for cocaine smuggling.
In a statement announcing the arrest of four suspected drug traffickers, who ingested 170 wraps of cocaine, Tuesday, the anti-narcotics agency called on its officials to remain vigilant when dealing with passengers on that route.
The suspects tested positive for cocaine ingestion and were placed under observation until the drugs were expelled, the NDLEA said.
One of the suspects, Ejiofor Eliezer, 46, ingested 100 wraps of cocaine weighing 2.155 kilogrammes, the highest single ingestion since January, according to the agency.
Mr. Eliezer and Obah Ifeanyi, 30, were caught during screening of passengers on an Emirates flight while Akpa Cornelius and Ike Vincent were apprehended during screening of passengers on a Qatar Airline flight.
“Akpa Cornelus Sobuzochukwu, 27 years old, ingested 26 wraps weighing 445 grammes. Another suspect, Ike Vincent Okechukwu, 36 years old, swallowed 5 wraps weighing 85 grammes”, said Hamza Umar, NDLEA Commander at the Lagos Airport.
During interrogation, Mr. Eliezer, who said he had lived in Brazil for two years, blamed his involvement in drug trafficking on poverty.
“I live in Brazil where I work in a supermarket and I am married with four children”, said Mr. Eliezer, who hails from Nnewi in Anambra state.
“I attended Central School Ukpor. After my primary education, I could not study further due to lack of money. Life in Brazil is tough because I live from hand to mouth. I have no savings, in fact it was poverty that made me to smuggle drugs. I took a risk by swallowing 100 wraps of cocaine for N200,000 because of poverty”.
For Mr. Ifeanyi, it was a quest to earn quick money that lured him into the world of cocaine trafficking.
“I am single and had been working in Brazil for two years,” he said. “At present I work in a bakery and my salary is meagre. My plan was to give the drug to a friend in Dubai but he did not come to collect the drug as planned.
“This was how I had to come to Nigeria with the drug. I blame my friend for my arrest because I would have made 15,000 dollars from the deal”.
Mr. Sobuzochukwu, who holds a diploma in Accounting, said that he was frustrated working as a cleaner in Brazil with poor salary.
The suspect, who studied at Institute of Management Technology, Enugu, said he traveled to Brazil in search of better job but ended up as a cleaner in a train station.
“My father is sick and I cannot afford return ticket to Nigeria let alone pay the hospital bill. I know I made a big mistake but I smuggled cocaine out of frustration. I would have been paid $1,500”.
In his confession, Mr. Okechukwu blamed his arrest by NDLEA officials on “miscalculation”.
“I thought that the five wraps of cocaine will not be detected”, he said. “I regret my involvement in drug trafficking. I dropped out of school in Junior Secondary School class two and I work in a toy company in Brazil”.
The suspects will soon be charged to court, the NDLEA said.