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Nigerian Drug Baron Flees South Africa, Arrested in Imo Mansion



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Joachin Mbonu, a drug baron on the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency’s wanted list, has been arrested. He was apprehended by NDLEA operatives at his mansion in his village in Imo State on July 5.

The agency’s spokesperson, Femi Babafemi, announced on Tuesday that Mbonu was arrested along with his associate. Babafemi stated that Mbonu is part of a drug cartel involved in the production of methamphetamine.

Babafemi said, “A major drug cartel behind the production and distribution of the deadly psychoactive substance methamphetamine, popularly called ‘Mkpuru mmiri,’ has been dismantled by NDLEA operatives following the arrest of the syndicate’s leader, 42-year-old Joachin Chikaodi Mbonu, and his associate in his mansion in Umuomi village, Uzogba-Ezenomi autonomous community, Ikeduru Local Government Area of Imo State.”

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The cartel, which operated in Imo and Rivers states, became a target after intelligence indicated it was responsible for distributing large quantities of methamphetamine in the South-East, South-South, and other parts of the country. During the operation, the NDLEA recovered 419.99 grams of methamphetamine, 750 grams of iodine, and a pump-action gun with four cartridges.

Babafemi stated, “After weeks of surveillance, officers from the agency’s special operations unit tracked and traced the drug lord to his village mansion in Imo State on Friday, July 5, 2024. He was caught with a cartel member, Kenneth Chibuike Ofoegbu, 34, and different quantities of methamphetamine, precursor chemicals, a pump-action gun, and cartridges were recovered. The exhibits included 419.99 grams of methamphetamine, 750 grams of iodine, 500 grams of sodium bicarbonate, two electronic weighing scales, and a pump-action gun with four cartridges.”

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The operatives also raided the residences of Mbonu’s associates in Rivers and Imo states, recovering various illicit drugs. Babafemi said, “The operatives moved swiftly to another of Mbonu’s hideouts at 11 Redemption Avenue, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, where they recovered 750 grams of processed sodium bicarbonate, 170 grams of plain sodium bicarbonate, and 75 grams of meth. Another raid at the home of one of Mbonu’s associates, Odoemenam Pedro Chinedu, currently at large, in Njaba LGA, Imo State, led to the recovery of another pump-action gun with 25 cartridges and other items. While the kingpin is in custody, two of his mansions in Imo State have been marked for possible forfeiture to the Federal Government.”

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Babafemi further revealed that Mbonu had previously escaped from South Africa, where he lived for years and learned how to produce methamphetamine after coming under investigation for drug dealings. Upon his return to Nigeria, he continued his criminal activities by setting up clandestine laboratories in remote villages to conceal his operations.

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