A drug cartel in Edo State has attacked operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA after they uncovered tons of processed psychoactive substances stored for distribution ahead of the yuletide.
The substances were stored in warehouses located in different forest areas in the state, and following credible intelligence, NDLEA operatives busted the Ujiogba forest in the Esan West Local Government Area (LGA) of the state.
The NDLEA in a statement on Thursday, signed by its spokesperson, Femi Babafemi disclosed that the warehouses in Ujiogba forest containing about 6,000kgs of cannabis, were taken down last weekend.
However, in an attempt to burst the warehouse located in Opuje forest, the operatives came under gunfire from members of the drug syndicate, preventing the operatives from accessing the area.
“The Opuje community is notorious for cannabis cultivation, where the cartels invest huge resources, cutting down economic trees of the forest reserves and cultivating cannabis on a large scale, running into hundreds of hectares.
“After harvest, they build warehouses inside the forest reserves and employ the services of armed youths to protect the warehouses,” the agency said.
The NDLEA noted that the syndicate blocked all access roads in the community, leading to three NDLEA officers sustaining injury during the attack.
“One of them shot in the head while some of the vehicles used for the operation were riddled with bullets”, the NDLEA noted, stating further that its operatives were able to exit the area after over two hours of gunfight with the armed men.
“The affected officers were rushed to the hospital for treatment while the critically injured one had a major surgery on Wednesday 6th December to remove the bullets in his brain,” the NDLEA said.
The incident comes barely 11 months after armed youths recruited by drug barons ambushed NDLEA officers who stormed the community to destroy massive warehouses and tents storing over 317,417 kilograms (317.4 metric tons) of cannabis sativa on January 18.